Georgia B: A Volunteer’s Story
I started volunteering at The Midnight Mission (when I got sober) in 1993 as a holiday volunteer. I had lost everything, hit bottom and was in the process of rebuilding my life. There was a group of people from my home group coming down to volunteer, and I just followed what everyone else was doing. Plus, I was interested in The Midnight because I have always had a deep and profound fear of being homeless. In fact, it has been one of my greatest fears most of my life. This seemed like a good way to face my fear head-on.
When I would volunteer here, I felt a kinship with the people here on our streets yet felt completely powerless to help in any way. It was heartbreaking. I had been living paycheck to paycheck for most of my life. I knew that could be me, or anyone else for that matter, that was homeless and living on our streets. In 2009, after being on disability with a back injury, it was time to get back into the work force. Since I had always felt the pull to be here, I called the Volunteer Coordinator and asked if I could start volunteering until I found a job.
The more time I spent here, the more I saw how much hope there is and how many services are available to our community. I have witnessed countless extraordinary acts of kindness by our community, staff and volunteers. I started to hear the stories of the people we serve and was able to see first-hand that lives were being changed. My fear of homelessness dissipated. I was hired as a full-time employee in 2010 – seventeen years after I had first volunteered. I have since had that opportunity to work with some of the finest people on the planet that genuinely care about our community and give selflessly of themselves daily.
I have been blessed with the opportunity to start a few programs here: Music With A Mission, Art With A Mission and Laughter With A Mission. These programs are aimed at bringing our community together through music and art. Working here really keeps things in perspective for me. It is a loud and clear reminder of my many blessings and what is important. I have a life that is filled with love and not love that is measured by the love others may feel for me, but by the immense love I have for so many people in my life. In addition, I met my musical partner, Ken Perry, here in 2010. He was a volunteer for one of the Music With A Mission programs.
I am involved in a 12 step program that has saved my life. Through the fellowship, I have been given a way to live. I have been able to clean up the wreckage of my past, mend relationships and live my life with integrity. I have been given the opportunity to speak all over the world, sharing my experience, strength and hope, which includes my involvement here at TMM. I have seen how my experience can help others. I don’t think there is a greater gift than being able to help someone else.
I’ve had so many memorable moments here and have been touched by the stories of our guests and clients. There is so much hope and love against a back drop of despair and tragedy. Some days, I just have to cry. I figure the day I stop crying is the day I need to find another job and/or check my pulse to be sure I am still alive.
I have met many wonderful people here. There is Ed, “the balloon man,” who is somehow transformed to normal while bending balloons for others. There is Elzie, “the homeless comedian”, who is truly funny and talented and lives on our streets. There was Leonard and Tony, who used to help me set up and clean up after each of my events. One year, during the Christmas season, there was a woman in the lobby charging her wheel chair. Both of her legs had been amputated, and she said she was hungry. It was in between meals, so I got her some cookies and a drink. When she reached her arms out of her coat to take the drink, I saw that she had no hands! I couldn’t believe it! I was shocked to see that people like her are homeless and left to fend for themselves on our streets. She was gracious and thankful for the gesture. I will never forget her.
There is Ron, Jay, May, Black Kennedy Lincoln and so many more that attend our events and are always so thankful. Bridgette, a beautiful woman who lives on our streets and attends our events, wrote a poem about the Music With A Mission program. It ended with these words: “Even though I am homeless, the pretty musical notes gently remind me that life is so dear. When I hear the symphony, a smile on my face appears. Yes, I have had my share of heartaches, but one thing is clear. Thanks to the musicians, this has still been my very best year.”
Today my life has meaning and purpose thanks to my sobriety and The Midnight Mission.
Director of Public Affairs