Friday, January 30, 2009

The Warming Center

I've been at our church for the past two days helping with a warming center. If you've ever been involved with a shelter or pitched in during an emergency somewhere, you already know what an experience it can be...some parts good, some not so good.

This was pure delight.

The people who needed our shelter were simply grateful. Nobody complained. Nobody cried -- except for a two-year-old and a three-WEEK-old. Nobody demanded. They just said, "Would it be OK if...?" and "Thank you."

At first all we had to offer was heat, shelter and hot coffee. We didn't have cots, blankets, pillows or clothes. Eventually, we found some hot dogs, buns and popped some popcorn. Then, this morning we were able to provide muffins, fruit, crackers and cheese and had turkey sandwiches and chips for lunch.

One woman in the neighborhood walked over and volunteered to help. Others called and offered their services. Another lady stopped by with a bag of groceries and donated them.

A city commissioner and a government official stopped by to thank us and see if we had any needs. A police officer checked in on us.

My heart just about burst when an elderly woman I have known almost all of my life came in. Her husband is in the early stages of Alzheimer's and her adult son is mentally challenged.

"Thank you so much," she said as she put her tiny arms around my waist. "We're so glad to be here."

What could I say? I hadn't done anything. "You're welcome" seemed to indicate I had. It was my privilege.

I just pray those dear people don't have to find refuge there for long.

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