Monday, November 23, 2015

What is essential to your life?

Some of the clients we've helped remain in my mind because their stories touch something deep within me.

Many years ago we helped an older woman who lived on a limited income and had endured multiple  hardships. As her story unfolded, with loss after loss, I wondered how she had managed to keep from drowning. She shared her story without pity, acknowledging the goodness that had also flowed into her life.

I'm not going to spell out her losses, but they would have broken many of us. So near the end of the interview - when we had taken care of her needs (food, warm clothes, prescription meds) - I leaned over and asked how she had managed to survive all this. 

She said each loss whittled her down to understanding that there were just a few things in life she really needed: "her family, her church, and a little bit of food in the house".

Friends, there is a sermon in her response.

In a world that values things over people, we need to pause and think about what really matters in our own lives. And then cultivate those priorities with our time and energy.

Cicero said, "If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need." Do you agree? What is essential to your own life? Name it, and say "thank you" if you have it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

I recently spoke with a few clients

CCSC helps families and individuals who undergo short-term crises. Sometimes we pay part of their rent or utilities, preventing homelessness or substandard living conditions. A volunteer follows up a few months later to check on the family’s well-being and ensure our resources were invested well.

So one day this fall, I made some of those calls. I spoke to an elderly woman who needed assistance paying for her electricity last summer; she lives on a fixed income and had an abnormally high bill. If we hadn't helped her, she would have cut back either on food or prescription medication.

I also spoke with two single parents who’ve made lifestyle adjustments to juggle their children and work. Bob has three children under the age of five, and he works nights to care for them during the day. I referred him to our Client Services Coordinator to see if we could help formulate a plan to further stabilize the family and also reduce his stress.

The other single parent, Kate, was lucky enough to have her mom move in with her, so she now has help with her elementary school-aged children. She works a low wage job in the retail sector, so we referred her to JobNet, hoping an upgrade in skills might increase her income.

And then, while writing this post, a minister reached out to me, saying they have a homeless man sleeping outside, near the church, so she’s sending him to us for help.

You know, if I got into trouble, I’d sleep near a church also, trusting that the people of the church would reach out to me. And that’s CCSC’s mission, to be the church, saying “Yes, come to us. Let us help you.”