Can you help?
In the third quarter, we averaged 12 more families per serve than we did in the first half of the year. That’s an extra 50-60 clients a month. We served twelve times in the quarter. Four times we broke 100 families, both times on consecutive weeks. We’re tired and we’ve been hot.
Have I mentioned only one of the twin air conditioning units in the building works?
But the stress on our volunteers hasn’t been as much as the stress on our warehouse. We order food from the Arkansas Food Bank each month and they deliver on the third Monday for a nominal fee. In the third quarter we received almost 15000 pounds of food from them. Our last order was dropped on Monday, September 23. This past Thursday, on our second serve since receipt, Debbie asked, not knowing our delivery schedule, when we would receive our next order. Most of what we’d ordered was already gone.
Because in the third quarter, we distributed almost 43000 pounds of food to clients.
All the food that the Storehouse distributes comes from monetary and food donations. Are you wondering where the rest of the food came from that we gave away in the third quarter? Well, over 15000 pounds was picked up at local businesses who share their unsold items with us. I know! It’s amazing. We’ve established partnerships with folks all over town. And it comes in from people just like you, who grab a few extra items whenever they go grocery shopping. That is equally just as amazing.
The impact of client need in our hygiene room is just as weighty. We limit clients to only one roll of toilet paper per family and yet we go through two of those 45 roll packs we buy at SAMS every serve. Along with over fifty packs of sanitary wipes, and a bag of dog and cat food each. As well as 120 laundry pods and dryer sheets.
The word is out; the Storehouse is an amazing place to visit, even if you can only visit one time in a month. Folks are spreading the word in the community: in the third quarter, we served 214 families brand new to the Storehouse. They represented just about 20% of our total guests.
Jesus is doing something unheard of, undreamed, and unimagined. He has turned the Storehouse into a client services bazaar. This Thursday, he brought Brooke, Susan, and Ann from Walgreen's across the corner from the Storehouse. They gave 42 total shots which included flu, pneumonia, tetanus, and shigrix, the shingles shot.
Several clients got the opportunity to speak to a representative from the Department of Human Services. There are many people in our city who desperately need benefits and for some reason they’ve stopped receiving them, or are getting the wrong amount. The Storehouse has become a place where that can get fixed.
And each week, a few clients apply for a job at our local Goodwill store online at the Storehouse. This past Thursday, an older woman, who was not computer comfortable, took her seat at the laptop to begin the application. Nearly ten minutes later, she had only been able to enter her first and last names in the appropriate boxes, and neither began with a capital letter. I asked her if she’d be comfortable letting me enter the answers as she gave me the information. So we exchanged places and began a not too awkward dance through the process.
The first page was mostly personal information. The second page was the critical questions. Yes, she could work in cold and hot environments. Yes, she could manage a 50 pound load on her own. Yes, she knew her way around a dolly. The third page was reference and past work experience. The final page was a review and submission. It went pretty quickly and at the last submit, we got the online affirmation that the process was complete and her application had been received.
About a half hour later, another woman wanted to apply. This time I opened with, “Would you like me to do the typing?” She was so grateful.
She was more frail and less confident than the first lady. When we got to the second page she said that no, she couldn’t work in cold environments. Then she admitted right away that 50 pounds would be too much for her to handle. Unlike the first client I helped, when I clicked submit on this page, the process jumped right to the last page. The lady was thanked for submitting her information and her application had been received.
I didn’t have the heart to tell her that her answers had disqualified her from employment through that agency.
As a boy, I was raised in the ideology that a people who needed help as adults to pay their bills and not have to live on the street had made a lot of bad decisions and pretty much deserved to be in the situation they were in.
Through my work here at the Storehouse, Jesus has opened my eyes to a much truer reality. All of us live a life that is much more determined by the decisions others made that affected us than our own bad decisions. And much of that in the first six years of our lives. Go to any school on the first day and watch kids in poverty as they mix with other children in their community who obviously have everything they need and a lot of what they want. Those kids will figure out soon enough that some have and others don’t and there’s not a whole lot they can do about it.
My dad and I didn’t get to enjoy much of a friendship. He was a gruff fellow who seemed perpetually irritated. But he made a lot of decisions that positively impacted my life. He decided not to leave our family. He worked every day and was never fired from a job. He made sure I had food and clothes and shoes. He made sure our bills were paid. Eventually, he decided I would go to college, and he would pay for at least part of the expense.
I was, and still am, one of the haves. Maybe, when I’m pouring out my life for clients in the Storehouse, I’m saying thanks to Jesus for how good I’ve had it.
Maybe there’s a way you, through the Storehouse, can say thanks to Jesus too.
I am the Storehouse Director and get the privilege of writing about the people that Jesus loves.
Contact Mike Rush at email@example.com for all things "Volunteer".
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