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Thursday, July 10, 2008

calling all angels

Today was the first of many emotional days.
We learned about our clients who have long histories with the office. For confidentiality reasons I don't think it's right to share details, although over the life of the blog I'll probably explore many generalizations in society based on those details. Without going into their stories, I can say that hearing what our clients deal with brought me to tears. I was fine for like four stories but then it just weighed on my heart and I had to really control myself.
Their stories.
They were exhausting to hear about and even more exhausting to write about. Alex was sharing with us one person's story right before he came in. I had seen him before, but this time I saw him. I saw his story in his eye's, the way he talked, the way he sighed.
This is poverty. Not only financial poverty, but spiritual as well.
Alex noted that there are many times when clients come in in a state of crisis. They say they are ready to give up and want to take their own lives. We're trained to work with them in this situation and know where to direct them for the medical attention they need, but hearing there stories I can sympathize with their despair.
Later on that day as I was waiting for the David Maraniss talk at the library, I tried to finish my reading of 'the call of service.' I just made it to the chapter on 'what they mean to us' and it was a perfect place to be and it brought clarity to the emotions I had begun to feel. It also gave me a new lens with which to see my job. One of the more wonderful things that Alex, explored in her story was how these clients come to see us as their family. Or just simply, someone in this world to trust and also care about. This world can be a really hard, unfair and brutal place, and I don't know why? But I feel we have been given the keys to each other's happiness, relief and joy.
Today we also talked about volunteer management. We have a serious shortage of student volunteers and today we strategized ideas on working with the administrators, professors and students to bring more volunteers into the office. It's the other side of my job, preparing and developing our volunteer base. This is as much an opportunity for our volunteers as it is for our clients, and we have an obligation to guide the development of our students while they engage in this service.
It reminds me of this parable, which for the life of me I cannot remember. Basically it's about this village that is at the base of a waterfall. One day bodies start coming down the waterfall and over time the villagers become pretty adept at sorting the bodies and handling them. And then they become pretty prideful about it, but during this entire time no one goes to the top of the waterfall to see where the bodies are coming from.
In our work I feel we are similar to the villagers at the base of the waterfall. We combat the effects of poverty on our clients by helping them resources that can bring them a better quality of life. But in our job we must also prepare leaders to send to the top of the waterfall to eliminate poverty and the need for our services at all. I not only believe we can eliminate poverty, I believe we have to.

So yeah, that was my day
I went to go here david maraniss talk about his new book rome 1960 about the 1960 olympics. I really want to read it, it was such a wonderful talk. Ofcourse it relit my love for the olympics and why I find it to be such a fascinating event in our world culture. When I read it, I'll share some of the inspiring stories. Now I'm off to get some good rest.

Song: Call all Angels by Jane Siberry

Quote: Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

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