I am not trying to gain sympathy for me or the rest of the staff when I write about the tough things we see. More than anything else, my goal is to simply educate and publicize the inexplicable poverty and desperation that exists in our own city. Even so, I would be lying to claim that seeing such need is not difficult. I frequently just lay awake at night thinking. I have a tough time forgetting about what I have witnessed that day and trying to make sense of everything. After all, how do you explain why a grandmother should have to make a decision to eat herself or feed her hungry grandchildren? How do you explain why a four-year-old child should have to witness a family member get killed? How do you explain why 23 people should live together on a dirt basement floor without water or heat?
Despite this sadness, coming to work is easy. I love my job, my co-workers, Center volunteers, and most importantly our clients. I see what we do as truly making a difference in the lives of our clients. Our Center will do everything we can to assist each person that visits us. I do not believe in limiting the number of times we can help a person. If a person trusts us and is in need, why should we turn our backs? Eventually we hope this person will allow us to do more than just give him food or clothing.
Robert is this client. Robert is 42-years-old and has used various Center services over 25 times in the past 2 months. Rather than cutting Robert off, several staff members asked Robert how we could really help him. In several tearful conversations, Robert admitted to having an addiction problem. Robert told us that he desperately wanted help. He told us how he wants to be a father again to his two young children and make something of his life. Last Friday we took Robert for his chemical dependency evaluation. Robert is now receiving treatment for his addiction.
Robert is why the Center exists. I realize there is no guarantee that after treatment, Robert will have this disease of addiction under control forever. No matter how Robert’s struggle with addiction ends up, we will always be here for him. Our Center exists to do more than simply feed and clothe people. It might sound cheesy to say but we are here to give people hope. In turn, it is people like Robert, who end up giving us hope.