But, I know It When I See It...

December 14, 2016

From the blog of our president and CEO, Buddy Teaster

People volunteer for a lot of reasons. Sometimes it’s a personal invitation, sometimes it’s for community service hours at school, sometimes it’s about being a good neighbor and other times it’s about understanding something about ourselves. All are excellent reasons, and I can say that I’ve fallen into most of these categories at one point in time.

But sometimes it seems pretty clear that it’s simply about love. I met this woman, briefly, at our recent coat distribution at the Nashville Rescue Mission as part of Clothes4Souls partnership with Macy’s. You can read more about that here. I don’t know if can tell from this picture, but she just radiated that feeling of love through service.
Let’s be blunt. Being homeless really sucks. All of your life in a few plastic bags, not always a place to sleep. Often no place to shower, so you don’t smell great and people shy away from you. It’s difficult to find/hold a job, so there’s never enough money, and work is also about dignity and purpose; it lets you be part of society. These guys know all that, even the ones clearly dealing with their inner demons. 
Yet this woman, whose name I didn’t even get during the frenetic activity of handing out 400 coats, embraced them like long lost brothers. Smiling and chatting like a friend, she helped them find the right fit, asked about their lives and talked about hers.  
I’m not a good enough writer to capture that in words, but all I had to do was see this woman in action to know what “love” and “service” look like. And it was a beautiful thing.