Recently, we experienced “one of those days” at the Westminster Rescue Mission. First, we greeted Nancy for her appointment at our food pantry. We originally met Nancy after she and her husband had suffered a devastating fire in their home. They lost just about everything, and were able to receive some necessities of life — clothing and some furnishings to rebuild, from The Mission Store. At our thrift store, we always offer a wide range of items at bargain prices, but it is also a free resource for people in crisis.
Soon after the fire, Nancy was diagnosed with breast cancer. Shortly thereafter, her husband received a grim diagnosis as well. Now they come to our food pantry for help as they walk through the difficult treatments. Medication costs add up, and the pantry helps them manage by providing them with a great variety of food to choose from every month. Nancy says they are especially grateful for the availability of fresh produce from our pantry, known as the Sparrow’s Nest. Both she and her husband struggle against the toll that their treatments have taken on their digestive systems and appetites, and the access to fresh produce is a blessing.
That same day, a young man presented himself to our front office receptionist. His face was earnest and plaintive, and it was clear he was on hard times. He said he was homeless, but about to start a job the next day. Could he please trouble us for a shower. He had a small child with him. The child was shoeless and delightful. We welcomed him in for a shower. We also laundered his clothing and helped his little one find some shoes to wear. We invited them to stay for lunch.
During that same afternoon, we received a letter in the mail. It was from Tom, who was Stephen’s brother. Stephen had graduated from our residential addiction recovery program several years ago. Stephen left us very joyful in his sobriety. I remember his smile and the sparkle in his eye. Tom informed us that Stephen had finally succumbed to cancer, but Tom wanted to thank us for the years that Stephen enjoyed since graduating from our program. Tom was deeply grateful that his brother was restored to his family full of life, personality and joy. He said the graduation certificate from WRM was precious to Stephen, who celebrated his sobriety daily.
This is a true account of one recent day at the Westminster Rescue Mission. It was “one of those days,” like all other days, because we have the privilege of helping people find support, dignity, purpose and most of all connection, in the midst of a world of hurt. As we celebrate Thanksgiving together, we thank God for the opportunity to serve this community for 50 years — to meet people at their need, with hope, help and love. We also celebrate with an invitation for you to join us for a community meal, this Friday, Nov. 24 at noon in our dining hall.
For more information, or to RSVP for the community meal on Nov. 24, call 410-848-2222.
Carol Bernstein is the executive director of the Westminster Rescue Mission. Reach her at 410-848-2222, ext.14, or firstname.lastname@example.org.