Volunteer Finds Compassion Can be a Cure, Too
With just two months until retirement, Laura started considering what her next step in life could be.
“I was trying to decide where I could be of use,” said Laura, “when I met Bill Edwards (director of the Victor Valley Rescue Mission) at a civic function. He told me all about the program and everything they do. It was sort of like the Lord working in meaningful ways in your life.”
Laura started out handing out coffee and Danish in the morning, making sandwiches and sorting supplies. And then she found her niche—working the front desk.
“They are mostly homeless, some low-income, and there are a lot of regular customers,” she said. “I learned that it was all about hospitality and compassion, and figuring out needs and how to meet them.”
Those needs weren’t always as basic as food or shelter, Laura added.
“There was this homeless man who used to be an engineer and he had some sort of mental breakdown,” Laura said. “He would come in every morning. He just wanted to have a place where he felt welcome and where he could be himself. He would just come in and hang out for a half hour and not even ask for any services—he was just there to make a connection with people.”
“If it’s something you can’t provide an answer for, you kind of get them involved in conversation,” she said. “Sometimes they come in here and they don’t know what they’re really looking for until they start talking.”
One woman came in and shared with Laura how lonely she was with none of her friends or family around. “We put together a prayer circle and we (talked about how) she missed that sense of family and community in her life,” Laura said. “It was a problem that we couldn’t solve with a bag of toiletries or by telling her about a program. We heard her problem and addressed it. And she was really grateful. That’s what she wanted—prayer.”