Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Full of the Spirit

It’s been a lovely morning here at Hope House! Everyone is all smiles at the sunshine, no one is cranky or loud. Then there is this:

A client comes in to intake and announces that he now has an address. His smile is huge and he is so thankful for Theresa Meurs, who not only works at the Opportunity Council in the Homeless Service Center, but also volunteers on Mondays at Hope House. He states that it is because of Theresa that he is in housing after an extended period of homelessness—his joy is palpable and contagious.

Into the intake office walks one of our faithful elderly donors with a question about what we need—while this client is still in there. He offers admiration for her large cross necklace and they have the most touching moment contemplating the Holy Spirit together

Where else can you work that offers daily evidence and influence of the Holy Spirit? Love, love, love my job!

Monday, May 13, 2019

The most valuable thing at Hope House is.....

Recently, I needed to find a “bright spot” in the past year for a major funding source. Here is what came from my heart:

Trying to find one bright spot in a year like this last year is almost impossible. We demolished our old building, spent several months working out of our shed down the alley and finally opened up in our bright, shiny new building. So where do I start?

How about with a common denominator in all of these—our volunteer staff. When we were getting ready to close down in the old building, they worked like troopers to sort, pack and carry goods/donations to appropriate resting places. Their common sense and discriminating taste helped make the process quicker. When we had to downsize our staffing because we were in the shed, they hung in there and worked when needed, even in the cold and heat!

But the true value of these wonderful people, many of whom are retired and elderly, came when it was time to prepare and “load in” in the new building. Thanks to a generous grant from a local foundation, we were able to completely furnish the new Hope House with new racks, bins, shelving, desks, chairs, etc. Expecting a massive delivery from the store we bought from, and anticipating a week’s worth of hard work, I scheduled us to be closed for one week right before opening day.

Having told the staff I would be there every day from 9-3 and to come when they could, I didn’t know what to expect. I certainly didn’t expect for almost every single volunteer to show up almost every day. Many came every day, all day, until we were done. The work was hard and physical, and yet, there were no complaints. Not only did they help unpack, put together and set up the furnishings, they helped to decide where the best placement was for each piece.

 I cannot say how much this show of support and love from my beloved volunteers meant to me. It was truthfully the brightest spot in the past year for me! Without this wonderful staff, we would have no Hope House. Truly, my greatest treasure at Hope House is my awesome staff.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Home of the Cookie Monster(s)

Part of what makes Hope House so welcoming to our clients is our long time practice of offering coffee and cookies in our waiting room. So welcome on cold days! One of my front desk staff commented recently that she is pretty sure many of our clients are “eating breakfast” at Hope House, lol! We love making the smallest contribution to a better day with whatever it takes. So, needless to say, we go through a LOT of cookies.

Last week, we had a day where we were out of cookies---once in a while it happens. I scrounged some graham crackers out of our food bag area and we were trying to make do. However, God always has different ideas for us—we call them “Godshots”---direct, inspired divine assistance to a need as it happens.

So, I am working on paperwork in my office, which is centrally located with multiple windows (my own little fishbowl), when I hear someone saying, “I need to see Cheri”. From the window to the warehouse, a parishioner appears with a gallon baggie of fresh homemade cookies—oatmeal with butterscotch chips, to be exact! She is sharing them with us on this day when we need them most. Godshot! I can’t tell you how good they were and how appreciated by all of our clients. I love my job……

Join our cookie brigade and have a baking party—we’ll take care of the eating. J

Friday, December 7, 2018

Little things.....

I love my job so much! You are all probably tired of hearing me say that I have the best job in the world, but it is true. Even when we are crazy busy and ramped up for the holidays; when my stress level is on maximum overdrive—I love this job. Today God reached down to show me, once again, what Hope House means to people, and how little it takes to change someone’s life.

In the midst of the Christmas carols playing, the tree in the corner and the bustle of the end of the week, God showed us the way.

There once was a girl……..who drove us all crazy with her quirky, and often demanding, personality. She had decided over the last weeks to focus her passive aggression on me—to the point of driving me nuts! Which I kind of think is what she was trying for? Every visit (and there were many!) turned into a tug of war over what she could and couldn’t do/get. She pushed, I stood firm, she pushed again, I got irritated and she won. What was consistent in her requests was the need for a phone. Homeless, not welcome in many places and often alone, she wanted a phone more than anything.

Last time she was in, I tried being overly solicitous and helpful and she left in a good mood with a minimum of trouble. Today, I was on intake duty when she appeared. As she sat there looking despondent and wondering how she could get a phone, the Holy Spirit said to me “give her a phone”. Knowing that our Assumption Financial Assistance people had given out almost no money today, I approached them with the idea of calling Fred Meyers and seeing how much it would cost.

Long story short, it was reasonable and Fred’s takes our vouchers, so we broke our rule about no phone help and wrote out a voucher for a phone from Freds. You could hear her crying all through the building. She was so touched and so happy and promised to call her mom as soon as she had the phone in hand.

We’re hoping a call to mom will lead her home……in more ways than one!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Well, we’re here—in our new “home”. In a bright, clean, open and welcoming new building on the site of the shabby, old and familiar one. People keep asking me if it is all I expected it to be and my answer is “yes, but…..”  Don’t get me wrong—we are so unbelievably blessed in our new space and thankful for everything we have, but……

Do you remember being a child and looking forward to your birthday or Christmas or a family vacation? So much anticipation, so much excitement. Then it comes (and goes) and real life is left in its place. That’s where we are—settling into life in our new space. In our church we call this “Ordinary time”, time between the exciting and special times of the year. Since this special event was 18 years in the making, we have a lot of anticipation “high” to come down off of!

In the meantime, we are dealing with learning how to use this beautiful building to its best purpose. It is a constant work in progress, as we arrange and rearrange all the furniture, the shelving and racks, even the coffee cart and sorting tables. Learning how best to clean restrooms has been fun!

We are busier than ever, as our clients, old and new, learn how warm and welcoming our new place is. As I sit here in my office on a Monday morning, the place is bustling with adults talking and children reading books and watching cartoon movies on our new television. The wind is blowing hard outside, it is a gray and rainy day, but we are here in our bright, shiny new home with hot coffee and cookies.

Come visit us sometime! We love to show her off.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

“The more things change, the more they stay the same”

We are changing big-time at Hope House!

·        Our bright, shiny new building will hopefully be open in October (I’ll let you know for sure the date before then!). RAM Construction has been so faithfully there every day putting it together for us—they are wonderful partners for us in this endeavor.

·        We have been working out of the shed—or, as we affectionately call it—the Hope Shack! Luckily, it is summer and we are not suffering too much (although runs to the church for the restroom make you re-think your coffee needs in the morning!). Our clients have managed to find us when they need to, and we enjoy the time to just visit and also take time with our families this summer.

·        Our new building will have all services on one floor and in a much more open floor plan. We are also excited that we will have public restrooms for our clients. Those who are in wheelchairs or walkers will be able to access Hope House through the front door, and find it easier to maneuver through the space.

How are we staying the same? Our clients. Our wonderful, caring clients who take care of each other. Just last week we had an elderly gentleman who accesses our hygiene services show up one morning with a bag of canned goods to donate. He said the food bank gave him more than he needed so he wanted to share it with others.

That story says it all—Hope House continues to be a magical place!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Come to Our Party!

We have a wonderful regular client who used to be a cook in the Navy, and he misses cooking for people. He also likes to socialize and is a source of knowledge about resources in our community for the low or no income. Every once in a while he cooks up a casserole, makes some sandwiches or French toast and brings them in to share. Today, the offering is a yummy macaroni casserole and we are very busy. Twenty minutes in to the day and the pan is empty, people are eating and conversations about recipes and food are happening inside and out.

If you didn’t know better, you would think this was a family reunion or gathering of friends. Our clients love to interact and take care of each other. Let me count the ways:

  •          Well, Geo brings in his culinary creations to share, of course.
  •          Men give up their seats to women. (I will confess I often have to gently “remind’ them.)
  •      More and more of our clients are learning to speak Spanish in an attempt to communicate with their neighbors.
  •      Gentle teasing about sports teams happens often during football season. (Wear your 49’ers hat at your own risk!)
  •     Disney movies with great sound tracks playing on the TV prompt sing-alongs and even some dancing. Shrek is a favorite—great sound track! “I’m a believer; I couldn’t leave her if I tried…”
  •    The sidewalk chalk for children almost always gets a few adults on their knees creating masterpieces.
  •      People give each other rides, help with carrying things and babies out to the cars and offer resource ideas to each other.

In the meantime, listening in on a food conversation, I heard one person tell another how much they love tacos, which led to a discourse on food truck food. One memorable Friday a couple of years ago, an ice cream truck pulled up and offered free ice cream to our clients on a hot summer day. If any of you have food trucks……

I can’t help but feel that Jesus would love this gathering place and the family feel of it. After all, Jesus was a party animal!