I greet our friends with a warm smile and give many hugs within minutes of opening every day. We catch up on our evenings, weekends and joke while we pour our coffee. Some of our folks will play cards with friends while others prefer to keep to themselves and stay in the shadows. We see these faces, sitting in the dark, and allow them their space. The Community Engagement Center provides space for you to be you.
Every once in a while a face will come out of the shadows. Earlier this month, Tony emerged from the shadows and started taking care of the community kitchen. I smiled and joked with him about coming out of his shell and helping. He took pride in keeping the kitchen clean, asked how to make coffee, refilled supplies as needed and helped close the center every day for a week. The following Monday morning he asked when he was getting his volunteer name badge. I smiled and told him I’d be right back. I returned with his name badge. He wears it proudly and every day would ask what else he can do.
The following week our friend Tyler asked me what he could do to help out. I asked him to sort donations and help organize the clothing closet and food pantry. He followed me around as I handed out toiletries, pain meds and supplies. We got him a name badge and he shared volunteer keys with Thomas who has been volunteering for a month or so.
As volunteer coordinator, just one of my many roles, I realized we had more volunteers than keys. That was quickly remedied and I was happy to see the smiles on the “T-Trio” when each of them realized that their badge came with keys. I simply smiled and said “Thank you for helping, now get back to work!”.
As our day comes to a close we see many faces emerge from the shadows. More and more folks are washing dishes, checking bathrooms and organizing the clothing closet. Our smiles are bigger than ever and the laughter is real and uninhibited.
We are a big family called Love Wins Community Engagement Center. Come by and see us in action! If you’d like a tour or want to volunteer please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can make that happen.