Giving Up The Comforts of Home
Today was a great day! One of sacrifice and compromise and inconvenience. Not exactly, the adjectives you'd likely have in mind when thinking about a GREAT day, but that's where the lesson lies.
I pulled myself away from my fuzzy slippers, fluffy robe, hot apple cider and plush sofa to get dressed to meet a dozen of teen girls and volunteers at the Salvation Army homeless shelter for women and children. Upon my arrival, I was greeted enthusiastically by three-year-old "Billy". He was full of life, rambucious and eager to have me and the others come to his 'home.'
Home was a building in the uptown area that housed more than 200 families (women and kids), whose bedroom environemnt likely consisted of a cot and blanket placed anywhere it could fit. For Billy and his mom and older sister, their 'bedroom' was the cafeteria. It's where we invaded to create a makeshift game room to give kids a fun outlet and moms a much-needed break.
During our two-hour stint, one of the Salvation Army staff members talked to us about how impactful our visit was on the kids there. They don't often get to have 'fun' she said. They attend school, but her staff as well as the schools have to be extra careful not to expose them and their living situation. She stated it could be extremely embarrassing and hurtful if other kids know you don't have a home and live in a shelfter, so they take extra steps to ensure their privacy is protected.
It got me thinking. How selfish of me to have to peel myself away for a couple of hours to share with those who don't experience the basic fundamentals of having a place to call your own? There is no sofa to crash on when you get home, no TV to channel surf, no computer to get started on your homework, no refrigerator where you can grab a quick snack, no bedroom door to close to have quiet time.
When we were headed back to our cars and quaint, cozy homes I felt pleased we'd made a small difference for the kids - giving them a reason to smile and helping to see that others cared. However, I did feel a sense of disappointment in my initial behavior and attitude. Giving up the comforts of home for two hours to touch someone else who had less than I was completely selfish! Isn't that what we are supposed to do, I later thought?
I do get it - GIVE is the name of the game! And if you're not willing to do that, why are you here? I affirmed the lesson I had been teaching the girls and the very reason I even started my non-profit agency. IT'S NOT ABOUT ME!
I appreciate that reminder on a cold, wintry day inside a homeless shelter. I just pray that the girls who volunteered will, too.