I thought I was in her way. We were in the snack isle at Kroger when I noticed her moving her basket in my direction. I smiled, said “excuse me” and stepped back out of her way. She was about my age and still had on colorful scrubs; obviously we both came directly from work.
Instead of moving past me, she quietly reached out and touched my arm, leaning forward as if to tell me a secret. “I just want you to know how much Mission Granbury helped my son and his family last year. They’re wouldn’t have made it if you guys hadn’t been there to help them after he got hurt at work,” she whispered.” As usual, I’d forgotten to take my name tag off after work. I touched her hand and whispered back, “I’m so glad we were able to help.” Instinctively, we squeezed each other’s hand in a mother-to-mother moment before going on about our shopping. It was a moment I’m not likely to forget anytime soon.
It happens all the time because I always forget to take my name badge off. There as a lab tech who simply wanted me to know how grateful he was for our food pantry while he was in school. Times were hard, and money was scarce. A waiter managed to swing by my table before my lunch date arrived and told me how Mission Granbury had helped his parents after his dad was diagnosed with cancer. He said we helped with their electric bill a couple of times during their year long ordeal – and it made all the difference to them.
I’m not alone. Other staff have similar encounters, like meeting an adult who grew up in foster care and hearing what it meant to her to have a CASA back then. Our Victim Services Director has had many encounters with women who sought safety at the shelter and found so much more . . . the courage to stand up, confidence to move forward and for many, the power to become independent.
Our staff and volunteers choose to work at Mission Granbury because every day they see the work they’re doing making an impact. Stocking the grocery shelves that get emptied every other day and knowing their efforts helped feed a hungry family or sorting through the many bags of clothing and shoes to find good quality merchandise for our Resale Shop, knowing that every penny generated in that store provides a service for someone who really needs it. Case Managers glean through dozens of resources, trying to find help for the homeless, the unemployed and the underemployed. Sometimes they’re successful though sometimes things don’t work out, but they always leave knowing they left no stone un-turned. Advocates at the Ada Carey Shelter field hotline calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, carefully guiding women and children in danger to a safe place and licensed counselors provide expert support to adults and children. The hours are long, and the work is not always easy, but it always feels good. At the end of the day (or night), we go home knowing our work mattered to someone who needed it to matter.
John Holmes said, “There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” I would only add that there is also no work that’s more rewarding. Each time someone stops to intentionally tell me about how Mission Granbury helped them or a loved one, I’m struck by the authenticity of their gratitude. This is the real deal - and it’s beautiful to hear.