“Compassion hurts. When you feel connected to everything, you also feel responsible for everything. You can not turn away. Your destiny is bound to the destinies of others. You must either learn to carry the Universe or be crushed by it. You must grow strong enough to love the world, yet empty enough to sit down at the same table with its worst horrors.” – Andrew Boyd
“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” ~ John Bunyan
Tuesday, May 6th
Today I had a conversation with the project manager for a residence building that moved into neighborhood. This building houses up to 60 residents who have had chronic issues with homelessness, mental illness, and/or substance abuse. I was humbled by the enthusiasm he had for the new project I was proposing his residents take part of. He tempered my enthusiasm with a dose of reality that I might not get huge numbers or participants who would stay for the full time, but I’d get a couple interested people. Day in and day out, this manager is working hard to serve those traditionally known as hardest to serve – some of the most marginalized and misunderstood members of my community.
This residence caused quite a stir when it was being proposed for our neighborhood. It moved into a “hub” where there are several small stores, gas stations, a library, a couple of parks, and a preschool. I attended the first community meeting where neighbors shared their views on the project, and some were concerned about how their personal real estate value would go down as a result. Others were concerned about drug addicts walking the streets – ahem, someone made an apt point that we already have plenty of that, this would provide care and shelter for some of them. Some neighbors talked about their struggles with mental illness and how we might consider how close we all are to a devastating change in our life that could leave us homeless. One of my favorite comments came from a gentleman who stood up and pointed out that he’s lived in this neighborhood for more than 20 years, landing here when it wasn’t a very nice place. None of us had come to him to ask him for permission to move in….and that was ok too because it is what made this a vibrant and diverse community. In fact, the most diverse neighborhood in our city!
Can you tip your hat to someone who works in a non-profit, volunteers at a service agency, or devotes their life to the impartial and unprejudiced service of others?