Recently, we posed the question “What brings you back to the OAC each day?” to our staff and volunteers. Because the work that we do here can be taxing and overwhelming, we wondered what about our organization and our work gives staff and volunteers the encouragement to keep coming back. We received a variety of responses and wanted to share them with you. Love for our guests and for each other, hope for a future without homelessness, and a deep desire to serve others dominated responses. We are grateful to work with such an inspirational team!
Brenna Lakeson (Program Assistant)
There are a variety of things that bring me back to the COAC every day. First, our coworkers and volunteers. Every day, I feel loved and supported by my fellow outreach advocates. Second, I know that the work we do is important. Our guests need someone who will work with them one on one and who will advocate for them. Their individual needs combined with societal marginalization drives my desire to serve them in the best way possible. Lastly, redemptive stories of guests who have overcome situations of homelessness inspire me to be here each day. Time and time again, we see how having ID or access to medical care can really change someone’s circumstances. Often, guests come back to thank us for being there for them when no one else was. I hope that this sort of stability can happen for all of our guests, and their gratitude inspires me to come to work each day ready to serve.
Ahren Foster (Main Frame Job Readiness Coordinator)
This may sound cliche or naive, but I believe that hope brings me back. Every day I meet people who are trying, sometimes against all odds, to improve their lives in both small and large ways by getting medical care, a state ID, or some help with emergency food for the month. It is a wonderful feeling to both offer hope in the form of resources and to see hope begin to kindle in the eyes of a guest who has not had much to hope for in a while. That is why I keep coming back.
April Campbell (Program Director)
The OAC is a place that values everyone who walks through the doors. This means that every guest that receives services is treated with respect and dignity and that every volunteer and staff member is consistently told how much they are appreciated. Finding an environment that fosters so much hope, encouragement, and self-sufficiency has been such an amazing experience. Every morning I wake up excited to come do the work that we do. The other day a guest stated that the OAC is “heaven sent”; another guest stated that he would not know where to turn if the OAC was not here. Interactions like these are what inspire the work that we do. Our guests are our drive, for without them we would not be here. I am continuously amazed at their resiliency and I find myself learning something new about the human spirit and different ways to advocate for the individuals that I meet every day. So, why do I come back to the OAC every day? It is because I enjoy the work that I do, I enjoy my team, I believe in our services and our mission, and I enjoy working with the guests who come through our doors.
Charles Cantrell (Front Desk Volunteer)
– A sense of community and worthwhile/common cause.
– Slowly learning what the Biblical imperative of “service” actually means.
– Observing Guests, who have so little, demonstrate faith, hope, patience, persistence, determination, courage, wisdom, even good humor.
Charlotte Holland (Art Volunteer)
I keep coming back to OAC for the Prayer Circle with such a wonderful, compassionate staff. I also come back for the peace and understanding that I find in our Art Circle with my regular “boys” and with all the others who pass through from time to time. Each one accepting of the other in so many ways. And I learn a lot from Mark, my cohort, each and every Thursday. I am grateful to have found OAC.
Ann Hunter (Intake, Front Desk, and Social Work Volunteer)
I come back to the OAC each week because Christ calls me to “show up!” And it never occurs to me not to come back. I am so blessed by the men and women who share their deepest hurts and their fondest hopes as we work together to find their way out of homelessness. I also am grateful for the opportunity to share my particular gifts as a social worker, supervising social work students at the OAC. It’s sort of like a matching gift program – MSW students need a social work supervisor and together we are able to double our work with guests.
If you’re encouraged by these responses and want to become a part of the OAC team, please email April Campbell at [email protected] or call (404) 601-3173 for more information on how to get plugged in as a volunteer!