Last week I talked about two books, Crazy Love, by Francis Chan and Same Kind Of Different As Me, by Hall and Moore. As I said before, reading these two books at the same time had a tremendous effect on me. In the same bible study, I have a friend who has been there beside me in this crazy transformation.
This is Margo. She quit her job as a physical therapist and had no idea what she was suppose to do with her life. I encouraged her to read Same Kind Of Different As Me. She became just as fired up as I was, so she accompanied me on the tour of Miracle Hill Homeless Shelter. We were hooked and signed up right away.
We began volunteering once a week, doing whatever Becky, the women’s director, needed us to do. Because it was winter time when we started, women could come in from the cold for the night to a warm bed and hot shower. We would change the sheets on the bed and prepare care packets for the next night’s visitors. Finishing up our tasks, we would join the women for lunch in the cafeteria. I, honestly, was a little uncomfortable, not knowing what to say to the “lucky” gal who we would plop down to eat with. Margo, on the other hand, had no problem asking questions. “So, tell me how you got here.” Sometimes, the answer would be: “by bus.” Ok. So that really wasn’t what Margo meant, but it was a start. She wouldn’t give up, she would keep asking more questions. Meanwhile I would be sitting there, with my head down, eating my peas thinking “Oh my goodness!” Yet, Margo was right on the money. The girls usually wanted to tell their story. Margo never passed judgement, but just listened. Which is exactly what the girls needed, was someone to listen. As we continued to change the sheets, organize the supplies and build a clothes closet, we built relationships with the women. Margo has the wonderful gift of tough love.
After about a year, during a lunch meeting with Becky, we asked her what she felt was needed at the shelter. Becky replied that she would love to see the women exercise and a parenting program for the mothers. Well, say no more! Margo immediately said she would love to start a walking program. She is an avid runner, tennis player and lives an active life. My heart started racing about the idea of parenting classes, so I did some research into parenting programs. Margo hit the Internet to research walking programs for the homeless. She found a successful program in Arizona, contacted them and began her own program here in Spartanburg.
This Step By Step program not only gives the ladies a break from the mission, it encourages a healthy lifestyle, which many have no idea about. Physically the women see positive results like losing weight, finding a stress reliever, and getting a little more in shape. Margo has seen women who could barely walk a lap to being able to jog around the path. That in itself raises their self confidence. As the women walk around, Margo will join different groups or individuals and talk to them about their struggles and goals. She encourages them in all aspects of their lives, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and family.
After an hour of walking or running, Margo brings the ladies back to the shelter and gives out the rewards. She has a detailed sheet with the client’s name and their participation level. With her own money, Margo provides a water bottle for day one participation. For every day that the bottle is brought to a session, the client can receive a powdered drink packet. On designated days, one can receive a bus pass, a $10 Walmart card and even a pair of shoes. This may be the first time in their lives that there is consistency, goals and rewards.
This twice a week labor of love, is a great example of some Crazy Love! Margo’s strong belief in Jesus Christ and her obedience to Him has taken her on a wild adventure. There have been days where we laugh, we cry and when we just get down to business. We have made a lot of mistakes along the way, but the one thing that hasn’t changed is our love for these broken, hurting and beautiful women. We see so differently now.
There are many different types of volunteers, those who do their once-a-year donation, those who write the check; those who even show up regularly, but can’t tell you one person’s name. And then there are the volunteers who are so crazy in love with God that they step out of their comfort zone and love the least of these. They use the gifts that God has given them and gone where He has asked them to go. Like Margo, they do the yucky, the hard, the smelly. They develop friendships with people unlike themselves.
Thank you Margo for being so inspiring!