Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Blessings of Unemployment

Originally written on 3/25/15


Today, I volunteered at Family House. Now, I usually volunteer at the Shadyside House, but I haven't been able to sign up in a timely fashion because I never know when I'm going to have an interview out of town. So I hit the volunteer coordinator up on Monday to see if she still needed a Shadyside volunteer on from 10-2 on Wednesday. She didn't, but as fate would have it, someone had just dropped out and she ask if I could go to Neville. AND could I go 10-2, same shift ACTUALLY, 12-4, No, Actually, 2-6.

I wish I could say I WANTED to go to Neville. I didn't. It's off of my bus route. I got lost going and had to pay twice on the bus (a real issue when you don't have a job) and when I got there, I had to wait about 15 minutes for the current manager to show me around the house. *I'M* supposed to know how to show people around the house. That's part of my job description as a volunteer. When I first arrived, I felt like more of a nuisance than a help.

But then something amazing happened. I slowed down and helped two people to their rooms that day. They didn't need help with their bags and they didn't really even need to know where to go. What they needed was to see a helpful friendly face welcome them to a warm place during a difficult time. They needed someone to talk to about their drive in and how nice it was to have a place to go while they awaited their wife's and their own medical procedures, respectively. They needed me to just show up, slow down and be myself.

Then another thing happened. I was fasting for Lent today (no food on Wednesdays until 6 p.m.), so I brought my dinner and planned to eat it in the kitchen at 6 p.m. when my shift was over. But some students from the Circle K Club at DuQuesne University made noodle stir fry for the guests and volunteers... and guess what time dinnertime was, 6 p.m.

So I sat at the table with the patients and families of patients battling terminal illnesses or awaiting surgeries or transplants and we had dinner like a family. And we watched and discussed the 6 p.m. news. And they asked me about the cold winters in Chicago. And they told me what it's like to live in the sticks of Virginia or West Virginia or Pennsylvania and how how Pittsburgh is too fast for their tastes.

One woman, about 70 years old, who was sick and by herself... She took a liking to me and I had the chance to talk to her until she went up to her room for the night. This woman asked me if there was a Christian cancer pamphlet because her neighbor was recently given a terminal diagnosis and when she got back home she wanted to share support with him and his wife. (The pamphlet sitting out at the desk was for Jewish folks and she didn't want to impose.)

I don't know all of these guest's stories and I don't know their outcomes, but I know I was exactly where I was supposed to be today. And if I had a job, not only would I have NOT been available on a weekday, and NOT have been flexible to switch houses, but I DEFINITELY would not have had time to sit and fellowship with the guests.

Days like today remind me what a blessing it can be to be unemployed. And it's days like today that I hope I remember most when I get back to the grind.

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