Around here, outreach is more than just serving someone out of duty. It is serving with the intention of building relationship with those around us. Whether we're serving a meal, cutting someone's hair, handing out food, or simply sitting down to chat we make it our mission to know the person in front of us and to show them that we care.
One of the regular outreaches we have is called Family Dinner where we prepare a nice meal and bring it to the Hope Center on Sunday afternoons at 4pm to serve our homeless friends. We do so every week, and every week we check in the people who arrive, marking down their names and putting a name to the faces we see.
A really important part of knowing someone is remembering their name, their pets' names, the names of their family members and the stories they share. In fact, we've seen memorizing names make a difference.
Everyone meet Raymond (gentleman on the left hand side):
Over the course of a month, we saw Raymond come to Family Dinner hunched over, quiet, unsociable and closed off. He wasn't interested in connecting or staying to chat. We would simply write down his name, he would come in, he would eat, say little to us and then leave as quickly as he came.
Then one day, while one of our volunteers was signing people in, she saw him walking some distance away but headed toward the door for dinner. Without any hesitation she said "RAYMOND! So glad to see you today!" In an instant, for the first time ever, that hunched-over, closed-off man stood up straight, and smiled.
Why, you might ask? Because someone knew his name. He was remembered.
That is the type of impact outreach makes. We love when we get to see visible change and the difference that's made. Sometimes it only takes one moment to make a difference, and sometimes it takes months of investment to see someone finally come alive, but in every moment, it's worth it.
People like Raymond and stories like his are the reason that we do what we do. On the good days and on the bad, outreach truly is life changing.