Outreach; It May Become Your Best Day Ever!
Laura was brokenhearted. Lorenzo had left her and she was bereft of hope. Her mother advised her: “When things are going badly for you, get busy doing things for others.” On “Little House on the Prairie,” perhaps her mother meant for her to find a distraction, but the undertaking of that very action actually summons the power of love towards oneself.
Recovering from hip surgery, I have been absent from Trinity’s Food Pantry and Clothing Closet for several weeks, so I have no recent experiences to share. But there is something happening that we need to report to you.
When you put together quality food choices, abundant portions, treating people as deserving guests, and throw in sharing personal stories, humor, and understanding, it continually attracts many new and returning visitors to 15 Randolph Avenue. Meanwhile, our handful of faithful volunteers are spread thin, often absent (health issues, appointments, travel, life activities) and, due to the ongoing pandemic (see * below), new members are less likely to become involved.
As part of our parallel ministry momentum, we have begun to involve community members, neighbors, and the clients themselves as occasional and weekly workers, but the input that is needed still exceeds the output that is given. Even with three trained substitutes, as we grow each week, there are empty volunteer positions that need some- one new to step in.
What can we do? Each one of you reading this can consider reaching out in some way to support Trinity’s most viable mission to date. If we had 10 more volunteers and practiced some flexible scheduling, our handful of regulars could have at least one week off a month, substitutes would be available whenever needed, everyone’s load would be lightened, and more Trinity folk would experience the grace and good will of this worthwhile work with our neighborhood.
There are variety of tasks from which to pick:
- One-on-one interviewing seated at the intake desk with one guest gathering information on their first visit; currently it involves filling out forms; when installation of the new wifi system is completed, intake will in- volve typing the information onto a computer (which will be referenced each time a guest enters one of Trinity’s outreach programs) that will validate frequency of visits, number of members in each family, and individual needs. No Community Action Council (CAC) Food Bank cards are used.
- Interviewing a family in the waiting room to fill out a list of foods they need and determining their preferences. Taking that list to the Pantry’s food storage room.
- Gathering the requested food items from their list in- side the staff-only Pantry storage room, supplying quantity of items based on the number of members of the family.
- Summoning the next family from the waiting room and assisting them in the hallway to select gourmet and specialty food items to take home. Helping them bag up their food on rolling carts to the exit. Guests carry their own items out of the building.
Be prepared for unexpected delights, reunions, sharing, profoundly moving stories, and to feel very loved. But if it turns out this is not your experience, there will be other ways to serve as Trinity continues to develop new missions.
Those of us who toil in Trinity’s Outreach programs now know that when we reach out in love, love will re- turn to us sevenfold, from very unexpected places for both our guests and for us—abundant, unconditional, and life- saving.
* Our procedures have changed, so that all are masked, and volunteers can choose to work only with staff or to interact with one or two guests at a time.