It was an exciting and busy week at the Covenant House last week for me.  Not only did I obtain a broad understanding of what it is the Covenant House does, but by the end of the week I was qualified enough to independently write food, clothing, and haircut vouchers for people coming to use the services we provide.  The system is such that we write the vouchers and then clients take these to various churches which house the food and clothing pantries.  The immediate satisfaction of helping someone immediately was gratifying.  

However, the more meaningful experiences this week occurred when Randy, my supervisor, would have a meeting and I would have an opportunity to talk extensively with people while they waited for him to return and provide emergency assistance I was not yet able to provide.  One mother I met was caring for 9 people.  She had three children as well as a couple of younger siblings and thier children.  She informed me that they had been living by candle light for close to a week while trying to find money to pay thier bill.  When we were able to tell her we could pay 1/3 of her 4 digit bill, thankfulness just exhumed from her face.  My initial observation is not that low-income families do not want to pay thier bills due to personal vendettas or laziness, but rather they simply cannot.

There was one other man whom we were able to help extensively without having to write any checks.  This man simply needed his landlord to give him 3 extra weeks until he would have anough money for his desposit; however he had a speech impediment and told Randy that he just could not effectively communicate this to his landlord.  With one simple phone call, Randy was able to secure this man much safer housing.  I am seeing that sometimes the most good we can due does not involve money.

This next week I hope to continue to improve my listening skills.  Even from with the brief time I have spent at the Covenant House thus far, I have observed that what many of these people need more than a lot of other things, is someone to genuinely listen to them. Questions generally aren’t even necessary, these people just need an open ear to explain themselves to and I have a feeling Iwill learn more from listening to these people than I will from actually assisting them.

Well, here comes week 2…!