I am writing this on Valentine’s Day and thinking about our client guests with love. It’s not “that” we love them that matters as much as “how” we love them. Love can’t be taught to people, like a class on “Love.” The only teacher is experiencing love. So we demonstrate “love” in all our actions. We work hard to help them with their challenges, providing hot meals, teaching skills, giving services, resources and referrals.
Sunday many of them had a little money in their pockets from the checks they had received beginning of month. So we didn’t have an extremely large a crowd in attendance. We made chili, rice, salads and desserts. Food Finders volunteer, Willis Johnson, brought a large Trader Joes donation and we were able to have food enough to hand out food for them to take with them too.
We had some returning volunteers it was very good to see. Though we were still short on volunteers we managed to make, and give out, hygiene kits to many. “Perfect Plus” of Beverly Hills provided lots of nice hygiene items to us. The guests really appreciated getting those.
Some new folks had called me during the week for assistance and then came in Sunday for us to talk more. I was able to give one gentleman rental assistance so he and his son could remain in housing. This time the single parent was a man. He has raised his son alone since infancy. He hadn’t been able to procure as many handyman jobs as usual. He is working towards a new permanent job. I gave him a flyer on a job fair and we will help him prepare a resume telling of his work experience. He also has a lead on a trucker company that says they will send people to truck driver training classes and hire them.
There were a couple of our other client guests with which I had to practice “tough love”. One of our large families has a teenage daughter with 2 babies and not going to school or working. I told them they need to go down our list of things to do before I will give them more money. Their goal is permanent housing and so daughter must allow us to help them get the children into daycare and either go to school full time or get a job. Her older sister is going to school and working and is a good example of that. I helped the mother get IHHS for caring for the grandmother so they are growing in income. They have a decent income now, but had been evicted earlier so with a large family and an eviction it is hard to place them.
So Sunday was an example of many kinds of “love.” A single father loving and raising a son, companies donating food and hygiene items so the poor could be helped, volunteers coming and giving of their time, a loving staff and volunteers going above and beyond their job descriptions, disenfranchised community members gathering in fellowship and trying to learn to love themselves and each other. Yes, Sundays at UCO’s Drop-In-Center is a display of pure “love”!
Happy Valentine’s Day! May you experience lots of love today! Arlene Mercer