Mother Theresa is quoted as having once said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” This is precisely what describes one couple who come regularly to our drop-in.
Betty and Alex started coming to the drop-in in the fall of last year. It was clear from the start that they were a little shy and uncomfortable, unsure about what goes on at our drop-in. They spent a lot of time in the hallway, next to the dining room, unsure of themselves and their unfamiliar surroundings. After speaking with them, I learned a little of their story: Alex is on disability and they get by on Betty’s meager earnings cleaning homes. Their ability to stay afloat was precarious and they were both at great risk of becoming homeless. They knew they had to start relying more heavily on social services as well as their local food bank if they were to avoid eviction. They had arrived, as many new drop-in people do, in crisis.
We were able to provide what we could that day: breakfast, a hot lunch, sandwiches, dessert and a couple of bags of groceries as we always do each and every week. Although this is a common service, one that we have available to anyone who asks each and every week, to Betty and Alex, this was a miracle! Through tears both Alex and Betty thanked us. They were so grateful and went away with full bellies and hearts full of thanks.
This was the very least we could do.
And wouldn’t you know it? Betty and Alex returned week after week, full of joy and gratitude as they gathered their strength and made the most of the resources they had around them. Soon, they were able to move from a cramped bachelor apartment to a 1-bedroom. “We have so much more space!” Betty beamed.
And, it appeared, a desire to pay it forward.
As they received more blessings from OIM, they began blessing the community therein. Most weeks, they would gather older housewares and pick up gently used clothing from their neighbours and donate them to our clothing room. They do this with gratitude and thanks despite the little they have themselves. They are also eager to let OIM know how very thankful they are for the service we provide, offering words of encouragement to staff and volunteers by way of cards of thanks and, recently, a box of chocolate for the staff (my favourite was the butter cream chocolate – yum :)).
And just a few weeks ago, Alex painted this small stone with tulips on it for me. He created this with the few spare art supplies that we were able to offer him. Art, as Betty explained to us, is a valuable, therapeutic tool for Alex’s mental health and wellness. And in keeping with Alex’s generous spirit, he used the paint supplies we gave him to bless us in return.
A small gesture, delivered with great love. What a blessing!