She walked with a cane.
Almost ten blocks to get here and she didn’t have an appointment.
A lobby full of people in similar predicaments waited for this small Filipino woman, nearing 80, who smiled at me like a 30 year old when I called her back to my office. She’d sat patiently for over an hour hoping to see someone. Many years alone since her husband passed, her $901 a month is eaten up mostly by $690 in rent, electricity that powers a fan for the hot summer months and a second hand electric blanket for winter warmth. She’d move to a lower rent apartment but she knows nobody and nobody really knows her. But she knows nothing else. This is her normal.
She reads. Carries a book in a clean fabric sack she calls a purse. She eats very little and showed no notice of my half-eaten sandwich which out of guilt, I tried to camouflage with a stack of files for our interview. She is a proud woman.
And that smile.
After two weeks at work here, I drank the kool-aid and died to myself.
I now work at a very small non-profit family resource center in the worst part of Henderson, Nevada. After all, if your job is to help those who need it most, you’re planted where they are. And they are.
There is no right person to help her or all those who are still waiting in the lobby. Not me. Not you. But there is a peculiar gifting here. The small staff of 9 served 10,000 just like her last year on only 8% of the entire budget where 92% of all donations went where it was needed most.
This is not one of my longer stories. But it is important.
I wasn’t born yesterday. I’m not an easy target and I can spot a user looking for another handout at short distance. The staff here are seasoned business people who work hard and long and who know that our reward is certainly not in the modest paycheck but in the experience that changes lives, including our own.
I could care less… but I can’t anymore.
I said it before. This ain’t work. This is life.
I drank the kool aid and there’s no going back now.