Wednesday, April 13, 2011

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

Sometimes volunteering with Back On My Feet makes your heart sing. Other times it makes your heart break. And sometimes, both things happen on the same day. Today we learned that two of our long-time friends at Blair House, W and K, are both moving into permanent housing. K will cut his commute to work from two hours each way by bus to about half an hour. W found an apartment big enough to allow him to live with his son again after too long apart. I remember both of them on their first days, panting at the end of their first mile and shaking their heads in disbelief at the very idea of setting a 6 mile goal, and today I couldn't be any prouder of them both.

But today we also learned that another of our members, also a K, has stumbled. Consistently sunny and filled with joy every morning, K was struggling alone with his frustrations and went AWOL after a weekend away from the shelter. His absence has been felt keenly and all of us worry where he might be on this drizzly evening. This is what happens when a person experiencing homelessness goes from a statistic to a friend: you know their name, you know their history, you know their favorite color and what super hero power they would have if they could choose. They become family and you worry like crazy when you think of what could be happening to them right now.

People tell me all the time how impressive they find my work with Back On My Feet. They tell me how great it is that I give to others, or how admirable it is. But that's not true; people like W, K and K give me inspiration, determination and strength, but also remind me about forgiveness, gentleness and love. They're my family, and they're why I keep setting my own new running goals.

In three months I'm joining two of our other members to run for 24 straight hours. It's going to be hard, yeah, but you can be sure we're going to get it done. If you can support us with a donation it would be greatly appreciated.

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