Letter to the Editor - “How Volunteering for Project Homeless Connect Changed My Life”
The learning opportunities I have experienced through working as a volunteer with Project Homeless Connect enabled me to think more from my heart. I now view our Homeless community members with more compassion. Many of these individuals have ongoing needs and Project Homeless Connect is a valuable resource for helping to meet those needs.
I have learned that little things do matter. Many are hungry. I learned this seemingly obvious fact through a recent experience. Recently, I looked out the window of the house we rent. The path down to the Homeless Camp below is visible from the house. I glanced out the window and noticed a woman sitting in the grass across the road, leaning back a little. I stepped outside to ask if she was ok and she said “yes”. Then I asked if she was hungry, “yes,” she said. I invited her in and gave her some choices among food I had in the fridge. She enjoyed the raw (dehydrated) Eggplant Parmesan I had just made for the first time. I made some tea but she wanted food quickly. She said she was starving. She loved the Eggplant and the raw Carrot Cake pudding I gave her next.
It took two hours for her to eat the food as she was talking incessantly with one story after another tumbling out. She was very intelligent and had learned a lot from reading and from other people. I got the impression, from some of her comments and by the delivery of her stories, that she had mental health issues and could probably benefit greatly from some evaluation and, perhaps, medication. Meanwhile it cost me nothing but a little time to respect her dignity and offer the simple gift of listening, which can be equated with love and caring.
I listened respectfully to her for over two hours. Her intensity seemed driven by her need to tell her story and complete some accomplishments that were important to her. My frustration as an observer was for, not with this fine intellect that functioned, yet struggled to focus due to its need for lucidity.
I gave her information about Project Homeless Connect, coming up in Lincoln City May 17 at St. Peter the Fisherman Lutheran Church, across from Tanger Outlet Mall from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM, Buses free all day. She had never been but heard it was nice. I asked her to come and ask for me.
If I had not been volunteering with Project Homeless Connect, I could not have done for my visitor what I did that day. Each new experience inspires me to want to do more. My husband and I now contribute monthly funds to the Lincoln County Food Bank because they can do more with funding than with food donations.
Like all human beings, the homeless need love and caring. Listening is a simple gift, so is food. I congratulate Lincoln County for all you do. If you haven’t volunteered at PHC events in the past you can volunteer this year at May 17th’s event and experience the gift of connection and tremendous enrichment. Call 541-265-9883 for more information.