What Urban Missionaries Do

This story started with a phone call. The voice on the other end of the phone sounded desperate. “You got to help me,” she said. “I just received an apartment; I am moving out of the shelter, and I don’t have anything. Can you help?” I didn’t respond immediately, but after a pause, I asked, “Do you have a voucher?” She immediately replied, “No, where do I get a voucher?” “I would try Catholic Charities for one,” I said. “Can I call them?” she asked. “Yes,” I said. “OK,” she replied and hung up.

The very next morning she was back on the phone. “They don’t have any vouchers,” was the message coming through the answering machine. “Hello?” I responded. “Oh, hi,” she said. “They don’t have any vouchers. What am I going to do?” I really wasn’t prepared for this so early, I remember thinking to myself. But before I could answer her, she said, “I was able to pick out some furniture items at Donations Clearinghouse, but I can’t get them. And they don’t deliver. Do you deliver?” Before I could answer her again, she said, “What about clothes for the kids? Where do I get clothes for the kids?”

It was at this point I decided to take a step in faith. So, I said to her, “We can provide you with a voucher for $200.” “You can!” she screamed. “Oh, that would help so much, so much!” “And,” I said. “We will go to Donations Clearinghouse and pick up the items you selected.” I could hear her crying, but no words were coming out.

I told her she would have to make sure her items were still available and also find out who the contact person would be when we picked up the items. Then, she would need to come to the Little Store and pick out the other items. “Just let me know when you will be coming in, so I can have the voucher ready for you.” “Oh, thank you. I will. God bless you,” she kept saying over and over again.

The next day, she arrived at the Little Store around 10 a.m. I got a call from Anthony at the counter. “There is a lady here looking for her voucher.” I immediately went into the store, and there I found a mother with three little ones in tow and a friend. I introduced myself and gave the voucher paperwork to Anthony, so he would be able to process her purchases.

When she came to check out at the counter, she spent $168 of her $200, but she seemed calmer than she did on the phone. She also had the contact information we needed to do a Donations Clearinghouse pickup, for which I thanked her, and she almost smiled. I told her that we would contact her to let her know when we would be delivering her furniture. “Thank you,” she said and walked out the door.

We were able to pick up her furniture items from Donations Clearinghouse the very next day.

For some folks, life is tough!