|Hannah getting toiletries for the women|
As I'm writing this post, a number of women come to mind who exemplify the supportive presence I'm talking about. They contribute to the community and peace there, and over the days, weeks, or months that I know them, I really grow to appreciate these individuals. One of these women is particularly caring and relaxed. I never hear her complain, and she almost always has a smile for others. I admire the way she treats those around her, and one night I wrote down in my journal that despite sharing the dorm with so many other women, "she doesn't see others as nuisances or threats; she sees them as people. And she cares about them." I was prompted to record this because I want to remember the ways she's inspired me.
Another woman has a sweet, quiet, temperament, and she's very giving. She always makes sure to wish me a good day before she leaves. I've seen her share food or toiletries with other women, and one night when a different regular guest didn't show up, this woman asked about her, wanting to make sure she was okay. She has even brought in a few potted flowers to brighten up the shelter.
A third woman recently attended a spirituality support group we have every Monday morning. At the end of the group, we shared prayer requests, and hers was for peace. As I left the group that day, I realized that she is praying for peace, but she also helps bring peace to the shelter. She has a soft, kind manner, and I never see her lashing out at other guests.
|Volunteers on St. Patrick's day|
I have shared about these four women in particular, but there are many others that I haven't mentioned who have come through our doors and blessed me and those around them. I am only one person, and as hard as I try, I cannot support all 40 women as much as I would like. But in midst of my limitations, the women come through for each other and for me. Sometimes a new woman comes in uncertain or upset, and I don't get a chance to make sure she's okay, but I'll see another guest talking to her, showing her around, and helping her out. Other times women come in, and despite being in an emergency shelter, they bring a good time with them. They find people to laugh and joke with, or they spend their free time doing each other's hair. Lastly, in almost all of the women, I have witnessed an inspiring resilience. I regularly hear guests say they are grateful to be alive, or they are blessed to wake up every morning. Despite the difficulties they are facing, they don't let their situations keep them from seeing life as a gift or from finding happiness in their daily routines. Every shift I work, I get glimpses of this resilience in the words and actions of the women, and in this way, they continually give me, and each other, hope.