Thursday, June 13, 2013

Messsage from the Director: A Community of Kindness

We live in a world of mixed signals at Fishline. On one hand, we watch as the Dow soars to historic levels, celebrate because jobs are more plentiful and homes are selling again. On the other hand, we sit with clients who don't seem to be included in this recovery but are instead experiencing nearly unfathomable challenges. They can be the kind of problems that send you to your knees, cause sleepless nights and require a humbling, last-resort trip up 3rd Avenue that you never thought you'd make.

We worry as we hear these stories, wondering how we will find the resources to help. We are dealing with sequestration, federal and local cutbacks and reduced donations, any of which will limit our ability to help those who need it the most. We have to squeeze out solutions where there are few to consider. We get frustrated when we see families who have nothing, who come to us simply hoping for a place to stay tonight, and the shelters are full.

Then we get a call from a mother who says her young daughter would like to have a birthday party but, instead of gifts, she wants the kids who come to bring food for Fishline's children's weekend packs. They even want to pack the bags as a part of the festivities.

Hearing of a particularly critical client situation, where an older couple may lose their house because the primary wage earner is facing cancer, a member of our community offers to pay their mortgage payments for a little while until other options are located.

A member of a boy scout troop asks what Fishline needs, and when we talk about our need for a new food delivery truck, he answers without hesitation, "OK, we'll get going on that." It doesn't occur to him to back down or shrink from the possibilities.

These are gestures not offered out of fear or anxiety. They are simply the response from loving hearts, doing their part to make things better, one life at a time.

Perhaps we are in a better place than most. We witness the beautiful balancing that life often orchestrates - where there is lack, there is often a reciprocal response. Our community answers the call, sometimes giving more than is needed because our kindness has no limit. These are our Hunger Heroes, ordinary people who in their own way are taking the future into their hands, not allowing discouragement or intimidation to change their belief that things can be better. No mixed signals here - as long as there is a need, these people will find a way to meet it.

This is perhaps our greatest hope and the test of our community mettle. If we believe that we will not be complete until we are all cared for, then that is exactly the community we will manifest. And if each of us did one thing to contribute to the solution, just one gesture that softened life's blows for another, we might be surprised and proud of the world we will create.

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