Since I've been at Franciscan Outreach I've met a lot of different people. I see new faces almost everyday coming into the Marquard Center soup kitchen. Building relationships with the guests has really changed the way I think and feel about homelessness and people who are homeless. By hearing how they got into these challenging situations, I've come to understand them and issues surrounding homelessness a lot better. I've found the guests to be creative and inspiring.
There is Michael*, who shakes my hand and greets me with a friendly smile every time he walks in the door. His situation in life would give him every right to be depressed. He comes to our soup kitchen to get a hot meal each day but still he has one of the most alive and happy spirits I've ever seen. Sometimes Michael helps us out with cleaning the dining room after he's eaten and he's always grateful for whatever meal is served. His spirit has inspired me to be more thankful for the gifts I have. I'm thankful that I can help provide these services for those that need them. And in some small way try to help brighten people like Michael's day. If there's one thing that makes Michael really happy...it's friend chicken! Michael loves fried chicken more than anyone else I know.
Another guest is Tony*, his life has put him in situations no one wants to be in. He was raised by his Uncle and had no other family members to rely on. His uncle passed away when he was thirteen years old and from them on he was on the street. When I met him he was in his 40's and still came to our soup kitchen to eat almost every day. A few weeks ago I noticed he wasn't coming any more and asked other guests if they knew what happened to him. They told me he's doing well and living with his girlfriend now. Although we miss seeing Tony around, it's been wonderful to hear that he's been able to get off the street after such a long time. It's encouraged me to work even harder to continue to help people in need.
The relationships I've built with Tony and Michael make me realize that our work is making an impact. I'm grateful to have the opportunity this year to learn more about myself and those we work with.