Softening Young, Tough Hearts

Today we got a visit from Officer Winkle, but it wasn’t a bad visit.  He had stopped by to let us know that “Whatever you all are doing, keep doing it.  I’ve seen a big change in *Mike.  He now talks about positive things, and instead of looking for trouble, now he’s trying to avoid it.”  Officer Winkle has known a lot of our folks for several years.  He’s known Mike for 6 years.  This was a huge compliment, and it lets us know that sometimes, this stuff works!!!

We’ve had a new volunteer in the kitchen this week!  This young man has lots and lots of energy, and in the past he’s been a handful at times.  He’s always asked about volunteering, but didn’t really like any of the available jobs.  Yesterday he asked us if he could volunteer in the kitchen.  I talked to Chef Billy about it, and he agreed to give it a test run.  It seemed like a great option, because this guy has, in the past, had an obsession with not liking what came out of the kitchen.

Working in the kitchen is a great way to gain skills and empathy for what it is like to cook for 40-70 people every day.  He’s doing a really great job so far and we’ve enjoyed having him back there.  Working in the kitchen changes people.  I’ve seen it over and over again.  He has been very proud, and asked all of his friends to please eat because he was volunteering.  It made us all smile.

Today’s lunch: Chicken Stir Fry with rice, steamed vegetables, green beans, garden salad, and a choice of pineapple or lime infused ice water.

Our volunteer, Tony, always jokes that the young people are “MaRanda’s kids”.  I have to admit, I have a soft spot for kids who are tough as nails.  I feel like I can really see them; I empathize with them deeply.  I was a “tough kid”, getting into mischief wherever there was some to be had.  Doing whatever it was that I shouldn’t have been doing at the time.  Skipping class in favor of going downtown, hanging around coffee shops with the college folks, sneaking around the Rose Garden smoking cigarettes and cursing up a storm with my friends.  I see pieces of myself in them.  I also see tremendous potential and a huge capacity for love and kindness.

We’ve heard that Love Wins has a radical approach.  We give hospitality that isn’t dependent on what you give us, but we’ve found that what we receive is worth more than any tangible thing that I can hold in my hand, except maybe another hand.

If you would like to contribute to our ongoing work with people who are experiencing homelessness, poverty, food insecurity, housing insecurity, or are simply at risk for all of these things, click here for our donation link.

*Name changed for privacy.