It Matters to Matter
Published 13 January 2016
Welcome to 2016! We spent most of the days over Christmas and New Year’s open so the year rolled over before we knew it. 2016 has started with a lot of coverage in the media about the tragedy of the coward punch. For every story we hear about there must be many we don’t.
One of the regular visitors to our centre was recently beaten until he was unconscious. He is a gentle and quiet man who was minding his own business in a public place but fell victim to someone bigger and stronger.
Why? Because a stranger asked him to pay for a meal for him and when he explained he had no money to do so, the person became angry. He ended up in hospital with multiple severe injuries including brain trauma and for the first twenty four hours was teetering on the brink of death. He has survived but has a long road ahead to return to wellness.
One of my team said to me just after it happened…sometimes people are here and then we don’t see them again. We don’t know what happens to them. If one of them were to become injured or die, it’s possible no one would tell us and that’s sad. What she said to me is true, and it also warms my heart. Why? Because it means that she cares.
All of us innately want to feel that if something happened to us it would matter, and matter to someone. For those of us who are fortunate to have family and a circle of friends, if we became ill and went to hospital, our inner circle would rally. People would visit, check on the remaining family members, feed the dog, collect the mail and then help us transition back to home again.
Many of the visitors to our centre don’t have close family and may have only a few friends. If they become injured or unwell and end up in hospital there may be no one to visit them, no one to provide comfort or company and on many occasions they are discharged from hospital to go and seek shelter where they can. Sometimes there may be people who care, but they cannot afford the bus fare to get to the hospital.
One of the things that gives this organisation heart and soul is that we unreservedly care about the people who visit with us. We care enough to send care packages and get well cards, to check in if someone doesn’t seem themselves, to offer support, to have memorial services for those that leave our Earth, to move mountains to secure an at risk person or family accommodation, to listen, to be with….. to be there.
I happened to be in our donations area the other week when one of our volunteers rushed in looking for a special sort of handbag. One of our transgender visitors had come in dressed up to the nines, partly Carmen Miranda inspired, with an elaborate outfit on and a rather magnificent headpiece affixed. Our volunteer had seen a particular electric blue handbag and thought of it as being perfect to match the outfit. She asked if she could take it. It absolutely made that visitors’s day. It was a small act of kindness and was driven by honestly giving a hoot about the people here.
At 139 Club we don’t get it right all the time. Perfection is not something attainable in our world. We live with ambiguity on a daily basis and cannot always meet the demands placed on us. I am ok with that, as long as we still care about our visitors and strive to do better, one day at a time. If that is the measure of our success, then I think we are doing very well.