Let’s take a walk through Mission Granbury. It’s Tuesday morning and the lobby is chaotic. Small children run in circles, laughing and playing with each other as their parents fill out the paperwork for food distribution. Parents visit while they wait their turn, friends for the moment, brought together by circumstance.
Behind the closed doors to the food pantry, scores of volunteers and a handful of staff work diligently, methodically and happily – preparing bags of groceries that will help feed this family for a few days. Most have been there well over two hours. The food pantry team hums along like a fine oiled machine delivering joy and relief to the young mom between jobs, in school or simply not earning enough to feed her children. We made her week a little easier.
Down the hall, our counselor and case managers prepare to see a packed schedule of clients. Some are homeless, hot, hungry and dirty. They long for a decent meal, a shower and a night’s rest. Others have lost their jobs and need a little help while they’re looking for a new one. A single father, barely getting by has car trouble. He’s worried about losing his job.
Sounds like routine, everyday problems . . . unless you’re the homeless couple, the single father or the case manager who is challenged to find the help these people need. Sometimes the resources are available but sometimes they’re not. And some clients aren’t willing to do their part, which means we can’t help. It’s emotional work but at the end of the day, case managers go home knowing they tried hard to lift their clients up and get them back on track.
Down the same hall, a victim’s assistance case manager meets with a domestic violence survivor. In a calm, serene little office, the woman explains her situation. She feels lost. She left with no ID, no money, no clothes and two kids. Within an hour, the case manager has arranged to help get her ID replaced, provided a gift card for clothes at the Resale Shop and helped her find shelter until she can make travel arrangements back to her family home where she can start over.
Stroll to the end of the hall and you might find CASA workers admiring the handiwork of a volunteer who makes a personalized quilt for every single child in foster care. There are super heroes, princesses, trains, footballs and puppy designs, all stitched with the specific child in mind. If you meander far enough into Jean Cate’s office, you’ll see pictures of happy children romping in the yard, posing with their new family or decked out in a football uniform. For all the sad beginnings they see, CASA staff and volunteer advocates literally change the course of hundreds of lives.
If you stick you head out the back hall door, you’ll see what looks like a beehive of activity! Operations staff and volunteers sort and distribute donations into many different areas, getting them ready to go into the Resale shop, to the Shelter, in storage for CASA kids or whatever destiny awaits them. If you wander through that area, be prepared to become one of the worker bees.
The last hallway at Mission Granbury is where the unsung heroes can be found. Operations, Finance, Community Resources, Volunteer Coordinator, Development and a Volunteer Board of Directors work countless hours keeping our services refreshed, our volunteers encouraged and inspired, our records and data accurate, our grants managed and our mission and vision in focus. My office is there and most days it’s a revolving door of people – volunteers, staff, board members and clients. We laugh, we cry, we argue, we plan and we dream – big, big dreams.