Last night I began my first volunteer shift at the Wayside Chapel. Within the first 10 minutes of starting, one of the “visitors” (AKA Homeless Person) asked me if I had once been a “user”. When I responded with a ‘No’, the visitor looked surprised and said ‘I thought only ex-users volunteer here… why would you help here if you haven’t been an ex-user?”
In April, I spent much time in the city of Sydney. Walking through the busiest intersection one day, I noticed a filty, displaced man with a scrappy cardboard sign and a hat in front with a few coins inside. I stood and watched. Within the space of a minute, approximately 200 people walked past the man. There was not one acknowledgement. Not one look. Not one dollar.
At the point, I remembered that this man was a human being… displaced from our society for some reason… but a person, nonetheless. And I realised that… something had to be done… and I had to do it.
I started small and had a (very) short conversation with a displaced man on the street. I then began to research charities and organisations who let epople voluntarily work with the homeless. I stumbled upon the Wayside Chapel and fell in love with their slogan “Love Over Hate” and their ideals of service without hidden agendas. I signed up for the Volunteer Information Night.
Whilst I waited for my opportuntiy to serve, I began to notice displaced people more frequently. Once, whilst sitting in McDonald’s having dinner, a displaced man walked in and stole some fries off a tray. I knew my heart had changed because I could no longer sit there and watch a hungry man go without food and not do anything. I offered to buy him a meal. He accepted. I smiled. He smiled. Life changed… mostly mine.
It is now July, the coldest month of the year, and I have begun serving at Wayside. My life has changed… and is changing. I’m letting it.
Love over hate wins everytime.