Just another day at the office . . .
He wasn’t very old, maybe 19. A turbulent family life drove him from home but that was okay. He found two part-time jobs and stayed in a friend’s spare room while he saved for his own place. Then the friend lost his place so the young man slept in his car. It was during the coldest time of the year and just before a long holiday weekend. A good Samaritan who heard about him called Mission Granbury where we found temporary shelter and gave him resources to find long term, affordable housing. That was a good day.
A few days later as I passed our Victim Assistant’s office, I listened as she tried to calm a terrified caller whose abuser claimed to be on his way to her house. The staffer was able to talk her down from hysteria and stayed on the line until help arrived. When she hung up the phone, she sat quietly in her office and prepared to see the next client from the waiting room. It would be a long day.
Two doors down, two CASA staffers worked at a quiet but fierce pace as they gleaned through stacks of court documents, entered data and made notes to children’s case files, preparing to speak for them in court. They stopped occasionally but only long enough to stretch their necks and fend off a computer headache. The work is tedious and demanding - and critical to every child they represent. It was an exhausting day.
An elderly woman suddenly stopped receiving her social security checks and was unable to navigate the system to find out what happened. In the meantime, she fell behind on her rent and utilities and was having a hard time getting her medication. She had no vehicle and no family here. I followed her story over the course of two weeks as the Emergency Assistance Director went to her home, made the necessary calls to Social Security to resolve that issue, helped the client find more affordable housing and arranged for help to get her moved. Move-in day was an awesome day.
Then there are the almost-daily emails. They’re usually short but to the point: “Hello, I’m a single mom and I have a job but I’m having a hard time buying groceries after paying my bills. Can you help?” There are frightening ones like, “how do I get into the shelter? Please help me!” or “we lost our apartment and have no place to go. We have 3 kids and I don’t know what to do.” Those are troubling days.
At the back of the building, staff and volunteers sort through giant bags of donated clothing and household goods, pulling out the soiled, broken, worn out and torn up items. For every clean, gently used piece of clothing we receive, at least two filthy, unwearable pieces are donated. Ah, but that’s another story. Meanwhile, the shelter called and not one but two washing machines are dying, one refrigerator is failing and the copier is on the fritz again! Alas, even the best of spirits have discouraging days.
I’m fairly new to Granbury and people often ask me what I do and where I work. There’s no way to adequately answer either question. They may not be your typical day at the office but they’re our typical days. They break your heart, bring you together, give reason to celebrate and spur everyone into action.
But at the end of the day, any one of us would say that every single thing we did was absolutely worth it.