About 7am I pull into the Step One Community Center parking lot to begin my day of miracles. In the outdoor patio area, I see a man who has been clean and sober for many years, sharing his experience, strength and hope with a man who is newly struggling with his personal demons of alcoholism. I smile. my first miracle of the day. I feel happy.
I go into the Step One Coffee House – am I lucky or what? While I am waiting for my vanilla latte, I listen as a Catholic Charities parent aide works with a single parent on solving overwhelming issues such as affordable childcare and much needed medical attention for her 8-year-old. I feel relief.
I take a call from a potential employer wanting employment verification for one of the women in our Step One Employment Enhancement Opportunities Program (EEOP). This woman came into the shelter after living years with an emotionally abusive alcoholic/drug addict. At 34 years old, she had never worked outside of the home, spending all of her energy trying to manage the craziness of living with addiction in the home and trying to raise four kids. She fearfully began the EEOP program at our Thrift Store. After four months, I have the honor of giving her an excellent reference for that hard-fought for job. I feel grateful.
I take someone on a tour of Stepping Stones Emergency Shelter. We walk into a bright, delightfully decorated playroom. I overhear a 6-year-old boy who has been in shelter for one month tell an 8-year-old boy who just arrived at shelter, “You will like it better here. I never get hit and no one is yelling. But I want my dog.” I feel hope.
I listen as a Stepping Stones Advocate, who has worked on our 24/7 helpline for over 20 years, speaks to a desperate woman calling for support and encouragement. I listen as she unconditionally shares the depth and understanding that only someone who has “been there, done that” can. Our advocates are amazing. I feel grace.
I stop at the grocery store on the way home. The checkout clerk asks if I am the lady from Stepping Stones. She says, “My sister was in your shelter two years ago. You guys really helped her a lot.” I feel honored.
I am at home making my list of things I need to get done tomorrow. I reflect on all the things that aren’t on my list, the amazing things that will get done anyway; those moments of relief, gratitude, hope, grace, honor, the miracles. I smile, thinking about tomorrow. I feel happy.
Robin C. Burke
CEO Stepping Stones Agencies