by Ken Williams
Recently, I was driving when the road narrowed unexpectedly from two lanes into one.
Caught in the lane that was quickly running out, I was desperate to merge. My turn signal was on but each driver kept a close gap between themselves and the next vehicle.
Finally, a car slowed and the driver motioned for me to move ahead of him. Relieved, I gave a courtesy wave and continued my journey.
It may not seem like much, but it was. See, in my time of need, that courteous driver acknowledged me. He didn’t know where I was going or when I needed to be there; he simply validated my existence and helped me the best way he could.
At Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas, our mission is to animate the Gospel of Jesus Christ by putting love into action.
A glance at the financials and it’s obvious that this organization has the “action” part down. Every 60 seconds, Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas provides assistance to families across our 21-county service area. That means every single minute, a family receives food, shelter or clothing.
Within an hour, we will have assisted 60 families in creating a budget, finding livable wage employment or getting out from under the weight of a predatory loan.
We have witnessed the joy of a parent bringing a child into their forever family and have welcomed the refugee as they acclimate themselves in a city a thousand miles from all they’ve ever known. We’ve held the hand of the dying to comfort them through their last breath.
All of this adds up to over a half a million actions in a year. But, frankly, there are numerous other agencies that provide services like these.
That’s where the love part comes in. Part of loving someone is acknowledging them. When our neighbors walk through our doors, first and foremost, they matter.
Truly acknowledging someone is taking the time to notice them and then taking it a step further and truly listening to them. The people we serve may come to us for the same need, but not for the same reason.
Our neighbors in need benefit from individualized case management because everyone’s story is unique; a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work.
Unfortunately, sometimes regulations or funding prevent us from being able to assist in a tangible way. When that happens, at least they know they’ve been heard.
I can’t write about acknowledging others without recognizing those who make all of this happen. If you want to know more about our organization’s “actions,” look at the programs and services. If you want to see how the “love” gets there, just look at our dedicated staff, volunteers and patrons.