I have been contemplating the words to one of my favorite songs by Mercy Me: I Can Only Imagine. It says “You are beautiful in His eyes.” I dream of a world where people know that they are truly loved and are able to extend love to others.
Recently I drove by a thin woman carrying heavy bags. She limped as she trudged up an overpass. I recognized her as a Grace in Action guest who had previously shared her struggles with me. When I first met her, I wondered how she had become homeless, when she has a master’s degree and has taught at a local college. Those with mental illness often don’t realize their need for services and those over 18 may refuse treatment.
I pulled into a parking lot and tried to flag her down. She cowered and continued talking to herself as she attempted to avoid me. I called out her name and she looked up, recognized me and smiled. She greeted me by name and gave me a warm hug. We chatted for a while and I told her I had a pair of tennis shoes her size. The ratty shoes on her feet had huge holes in the bottoms. She explained that bunions were causing her pain but that she had to keep walking because she didn’t have anywhere to go. Someone had thrown away her sleeping bag that she had carefully put in a plastic bag and hidden in the bushes. I gave her a tarp and sleeping bag to keep her warm and dry during the impending storm. She shared her dream of going back into teaching and also her fear of going to the temporary winter shelter. Because she had a trusting relationship with me, I was able to encourage her to get temporary shelter the following week. How many people pass by her when they see her disheveled, dirty clothes and notice that she has not showered? This beautiful woman who is struggling with mental illness is vulnerable and is not able to advocate for herself. When she comes to Grace in Action she is valued and loved.
People often distance themselves from someone who appears to be homeless or is exhibiting signs of mental illness because they don’t know how to help. Grace in Action strives to be a caring community that reaches out to those struggling with mental illness as well as those who are without shelter and basic needs. We want to continue to reach out to those unable to access the resources that are available. Through our lunch program, laundry ministry, referrals, and other services, Grace in Action is able to develop trusting relationships so we can assist in reintegrating people back into the community. We are being moved to action to serve those who are often ignored!
Thank you for joining with us through your financial support, your gifts of hearty sandwiches, and your gifts of time through volunteering in this ministry. Thank you for joining in this important work of giving compassionate care to lonely, broken children of God.
With gratitude and blessings,
Mary Lou Rossetto,
Grace in Action Director