An Unexpected Blessing

An Unexpected Blessing

This piece is authored by Michele, a volunteer who has served meals, watched children at the CWC, helped in the Donation Center, and tutored.

An unforgettable experience.

Although I have volunteered in different capacities for several years at Wheeler’s Center for Women & Children, my experience serving one night this January was one I won’t forget. The number of women and children in the Winter Contingency program had skyrocketed. A local church, Cornerstone Lutheran Church, offered to house the overflow. The CWC asked for volunteers to greet the guests, help distribute snacks, and just be a friend to the most vulnerable.

Joy in the midst of crisis.

When I arrived at the church, several mothers were already preparing their family’s cots and bedding for the night. It was a new and unsettling scene – transient mothers emptying their belongings onto the floor, creating their own little “home” for the night along the wall of a stuffy gym. Many made beds while holding babies as the bigger kids ran around. I tried to imagine myself in their place. I couldn’t help much, except to hold a crying baby and entertain the kids while the moms organized their sleep area. For several hours, we played hide-and-seek, sang songs, colored pages, and talked about our favorite books and movies. One of the kiddos, I’ll call her Shawna, soaked up all my attention. We sang “This Little Light of Mine” at least 22 times. We sang it slow, loud, soft, fast, and—of course—“super-duper fast.” She had so much life and love, and she warmed my heart with her smiles and hugs.

I still think of that evening, and I hope that for a few hours, Shawna and the other kids were able to forget their homelessness and just be kids. Shawna made an impact on me that I wasn’t expecting, and I’m forever grateful for her and the imprint she left on my heart.

Small things with God’s great love.

There are many reasons why I started to volunteer at Wheeler, but the reason I continue to volunteer is because of the amazing people (and kids) with whom I’ve had the privilege to interact. Mother Teresa once said, “We can do no great things – only small things with great love.” Shawna is one of those amazing people who helped me realize that while I may not be able to make a great impact to help the homeless in our city, I can do small things with God’s great love.