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Thu Nov 22, 2012, 01:50 PM

A Thanksgiving Tale From A Shelter Worker I Know...

A good friend of mine who works at a local shelter posted this tale last year and reposted this to Facebook today. Thought it was worth sharing...

(A bit of doggerel from long ago. Haven't seen any Korean war vets in a long time.)

I know two men who lived in shelters for at least two years. Korean War Veterans, they took hefty falls from the graces of “the good life” to become homeless.

We enabled them to find work and re-establish themselves. The work, the triumph is theirs. They did it.

These gentlemen pooled their resources and moved into an apartment. They also stayed in touch. They returned to the shelter they used to live in and helped keep order. They passed out blankets they used to sleep under. They helped serve the food that once sustained them.

After their first night of working in the shelter the time came for them to leave. They donned their coats and hats and stood by the door. I was preoccupied as I walked by, not fully aware of the moment for them. They sheepishly stopped me. They stood awkwardly shifting their weight from one foot to the other with ear to ear grins. Not saying anything. I looked at them waiting, for I knew something was up. They were obviously savoring the moment. Finally Bill said. “Tom, we’re going home.” With the accent on home. “We’ll see you tomorrow.”

I suddenly knew why they looked like the cat that just ate the canary. Going home after work is something I do everyday without much thought. These guys were going home after a long day for the first time in years. It was so simple, yet for them so profound. It was important for them to say so.

The next day Bill told me how he got up and fried a couple of eggs before catching a bus to work. The simple act of preparing breakfast and going to work, something I do in my sleep, was to him about the most sustaining, reaffirming evidence of his self-worth. The quiet dignity of getting up and providing for himself in a most basic of means is for him so truly profound.

I can only share their joy vicariously. I have always had a home. I have witnessed but never experienced what they lost. In the end, I can never truly appreciate their sense of what they have regained. I have my problem, money is tight, bills keep coming, yet there is so much I take for granted. These men and their experience gives me a glimpse though, of how truly blessed I am, the good things in my life. Count all your blessings. Brush them aside and count what’s left. For that is what these men are finding particularly fulfilling.

The rewards of working in shelters are few. When one comes along it is something to savor. They come in most surprising forms. You must make the most of small victories or the enormity of despair will swallow you. Triumphs are incremental and unromantic to most peoples comprehension. The most mundane acts take on great significance. It is true about the best things in life, the simple pleasures, without them there is nothing else.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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Arrow 10 replies Author Time Post
Reply A Thanksgiving Tale From A Shelter Worker I Know... (Original post)
stlsaxman Nov 2012 OP
Little Star Nov 2012 #1
CaliforniaPeggy Nov 2012 #2
niyad Nov 2012 #3
stlsaxman Nov 2012 #4
WillyT Nov 2012 #5
rhett o rick Nov 2012 #6
luvs2sing Nov 2012 #7
Mnemosyne Nov 2012 #10
upi402 Nov 2012 #8
Timbuk3 Nov 2012 #9

Response to stlsaxman (Original post)

Thu Nov 22, 2012, 01:54 PM

1. Heart warming story for this Thanksgiving day. Thanks for posting.

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Response to stlsaxman (Original post)

Thu Nov 22, 2012, 02:17 PM

2. What a beautiful story!

I am deeply touched. And you're right......so often we take for granted the simple pleasures and joys that many others are denied.

I am so glad you posted this today. It is a beautiful lesson...

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Response to stlsaxman (Original post)

Thu Nov 22, 2012, 02:49 PM

3. thank you so much for posting this beautiful story.

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Response to stlsaxman (Original post)

Thu Nov 22, 2012, 03:25 PM

4. you are all most welcome! happy thanksgiving!

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Response to stlsaxman (Original post)

Thu Nov 22, 2012, 03:30 PM

5. Thank You For That !!! - K & R !!!

I volunteered at a Soup Kitchen for several years.

We got the food so good, it was bothering the hell out of the local restaurants.







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Response to stlsaxman (Original post)

Thu Nov 22, 2012, 03:57 PM

6. I volunteer at a food bank. We only have four part time paid staff. We need about

20 plus workers to keep the place running which means at least 16 volunteers. Most of the volunteers are clients of the food bank. They are very hard workers and most would love to have paying jobs. These are very unselfish people. Seems to me that the less people have, the more generous they are.

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Response to stlsaxman (Original post)

Thu Nov 22, 2012, 04:25 PM

7. A place to lay their head...

In my community, we have several assisted living apartment facilities for people who have been homeless. I volunteer at one of them as part of a community choir. Every Tuesday, I visit these friends, we sing together and share the joys and sorrows in our lives, and the residents perform with the choir at our concerts.

Earlier today, my husband and I were part of a team that served Thanksgiving dinner to the residents. The meal is catered by one of the best restaurants in town, the helpings are generous, and seconds are encouraged. The dining area was decorated by our high school choir program, and everyone received a handmade card from one of the students. Prayers are offered and thanks, hugs, and friendship are in abundance.

My title refers to something one of the men said to me. In short, he had once felt alone and invisible, but now he has friends, hope, and "a place to lay my head and call my own".

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Response to luvs2sing (Reply #7)

Thu Nov 22, 2012, 11:30 PM

10. Another beautiful story, luvs. Thank you for sharing. Tears from the tales.

And welcome to DU!

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Response to stlsaxman (Original post)

Thu Nov 22, 2012, 04:29 PM

8. And Republicans look down at these folks

until it happens to them, they can't relate or empathize.

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Response to stlsaxman (Original post)

Thu Nov 22, 2012, 10:33 PM

9. Thank you (and your friend) for this

It was something I needed to read.

K&R.

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