Happy Spring! I do believe we may have turned the corner as warmer weather has crept into our lives once more. I think turning our clocks ahead one hour on March 8 did something for everyone as well. AND, it is also one of my favorite times of the year because the hockey season gets more exciting by the day, especially this year as the Wild have starting doing so much better, just sayin'... Therefore I tend to not think spring so much as I think HOCKEY season (thankfully that won't end until the Stanley Cup is awarded in late May or early June, I always want it to be longer so I hope for June). Yes, I absolutely LOVE hockey (Shameless plug - If you ever have hockey tickets you cannot use, call the HOCKEY-aholic, me, just sayin'....) and will spend time watching mostly the Wild and Gophers but any game is fine with me, it's hockey after all. In fact, as I write this I am out of my mind with excitement to attend the Gophers vs. Penn State game on Friday March 13. It is at that point where I can be heard saying, "Is it Friday yet? Is it game time?" I've had the great fortune to even have been a season ticket holder several years ago for Gopher hockey (maybe it's in my future again, who knows).
Ok, I suppose I should turn my focus back to matters of Open Hands. I'm not sure if I have really nailed down the reality of being the Director of this organization yet. I keep telling people to have patience with me, it's a process. Maybe I need to remind myself, and others, of the wall hanging in my office that says, "I am only one, but I am One. I cannot do everything, but I can do Something. And I will not let what I Cannot do interfere with what I Can do." I wanted to share with you some of what it has been like for me during my first quarter of being the Director. There have been challenges, there have been surprises and above all there have been things I can only explain by stating, "It's God's doing, not mine!" One thing that is a surprise, and God's doing, came at the beginning of this year when I made a connection with a man named Chuck from Union Gospel Mission. I had previously talked to Chuck back in November when he contacted Open Hands asking if we would like to be the recipients of 200 Thanksgiving bags for give away at our Monday meal. Once Christmas and New Years had passed, I reached out to Chuck once more. This time he came to Open Hands on a Monday to see what it is we do. He was very impressed by what we were doing here. We spoke for awhile and he invited myself and Pastor Joy Johnson to come to Union Gospel for a tour. Let me tell you that I was impressed with what they were doing there. The incredible amount of FREE services they offer was amazing. Then the generosity piece came into play. Chuck took us out to another building which housed a donation center. Here people could drop off donated items for give away. He introduced us to Lam who runs this area. He stated that they had a lot of extra items they would not be able to use there and asked if we would be interested in taking them. We took his phone number and about a week later myself and Vickie Hendricks, who does all the sorting and working with donations at Open Hands, took her van down to Union Gospel. We walked in and there was Chuck waiting for us with Lam and another worker in this area. We loaded up Vickie's van and there was still more they were offering us! So we came back to Open Hands with that load, picked up my truck and the two of us went back for a second load. We still did not take everything they wanted to offer us, we need to go back again! But think about that, if Chuck had not connected with me back in November we never would have received this wonderful donation. The joy in it is all the other things Chuck, Joy and I talked about for other ways we can partner in the future. Can you tell I am excited?
One of the goals I have set for this year at Open Hands is to make connections with many other organizations and churches in the area of Open Hands. To know what they are doing and for them to know what we are doing can be of great help. It is also a wonderful way to do referrals and to have others referred to us.
As per usual, I can't write a blog post without including a few good laughs, right? I want to give you a visual picture of something my sister and I did as kids. We were the type of kids who didn't watch tv during the day like our neighborhood friends, we played outside, we were creative and adventurous to be sure. We grew up on a cul-de-sac so we could truly play in the street whenever we wanted as it was pretty ding dong quiet. Something we loved to do, and here comes the visual, was to tie a rope to the back of my sisters bike and hook it to our red radio flyer wagon. The interesting thing was our wagon handle had broken, the part at the top that a person can grab onto and pull with, so we simply had the long hollow tube that we threaded the rope down into and back out where we would tie it in a knot. Then one of us would get in the wagon, the other on the bike and we would go down to the corner of our street. The one on the bike would pedal like the wind back down to the cul-de-sac. Of course when the bike would turn the wagon would want to go straight and guess what usually happened? The rider in the wagon would get dumped out at full speed or the wagon would be heading in one direction and suddenly jerk back into the direction of the bike. You can imagine that none of our friends were brave enough to participate in this adventure with the two of us. Yes, we my parents probably bought more bandaides than anyone they knew. But we were kids and we simply went right back and did it all again, without helmets (we never heard of such a thing then)! We often found ourselves laughing so hard our stomachs hurt. To this day we often recall that and laugh about how much fun a bike, a rope, a wagon and two adventurous kids were. I guess I am telling you this because I like to tell stories about myself to give people a picture of who I am and that having fun, being creative, laughing and life in general are so exciting for me.
There is nothing better than to hear a person's story. Taking time to really get to know someone is a priceless gift to them and yourself. It is more meaningful than the standard "How are you?" Having conversations with people is something that I enjoy doing with those who come to Open Hands. Just this past week I talked to a man who knows I like sports (I guess he got that from the Wild hockey hat or other sports apparel I am often seen wearing). We had a great conversation, it was something other than what seems to be the things many people who are homeless or facing issues of poverty often have on their mind. If you volunteer on a Monday I encourage you to ask someone something about themselves, you may find you make their day or they make your day, just sayin'.....