One of the temporary residents at Hope House Mission touched me with his prayer before receiving dinner when our group recently worked with the folks there.
The gentleman’s words inspired me to find something profound to start this piece to the effect of “When the receiver becomes the giver.”
I found one passage from a book titled, “Begging Monks.” And it read, “…at the moment that giver and receiver meet, both merge into a moment of unity in which the giver becomes the receiver and the receiver becomes the giver…”
I wish I had on that dinner evening what I have now – these words to share back to a homeless man who so movingly prayed aloud for one day to be the giver and not the receiver: You have given us much tonight. Thank YOU!
But the larger question is, why is there so little in an infinite Web that speaks of the receiver becoming the giver? Is it so rare?
This recent journey took us to the doorstep of a crumbling old hotel. As with human life, it began anew. It even attracted the stay of a U.S. President or so Frank (a temporary resident at Hope House) shared with a brilliant smile at lunch one day, eager to show us around before our orientation. Shortly after we all enter this world, things beyond our control may force some of us (too many of us) down paths others never see due to the privilege of sound guidance and community influence. A good foundation often (but not always) allow for building good decisions that can steer clear of life-altering pitfalls.
Had those of us who benefitted from the privileges based on nothing more than being born into the right family or community instead were born to an overworked single mother, a drug addict, a criminal or abusive environment, we may be more likely to have walked the path that leads to homelessness. The difference between someone tucked away safely in the suburbs with schizophrenia and another who is neglected and left to roam the streets can simply be the difference between getting the right medication and counseling.
Hope House Mission in Middletown, Ohio is out to sever the systemic roots that have a hold on poverty. They are a faith-based ministry that has assisted men, women, and children in Southwest Ohio for over 25 years. They provide shelter and comprehensive services and programs to help people not only find a place to live and work but to establish the long-term tools to maintain employment, paving the way to a transformed life. It is through the Mission’s resources that the recidivism (repeat guests finding shelter and food at Hope House) rate has dropped over 60 percent in the past five years.
Hope House Mission accomplishes this by helping others find their birth certificate or identification card, goal setting, kid’s activities, various “life” classes including the preparation to obtain a GED, counseling services, physician visits, employment assistance, budgeting tips, transportation services and of course, shelter and rescue missions. They also collaborate with civic organizations and area businesses to help transition folks out of the cycle of poverty. And of course, they need as much assistance as possible from people looking to volunteer and help in these worthy areas.
Perhaps the symbolism of our serving a hearty breakfast for dinner was to create a healthy beginning in which sunken heads may find the nourishment to lift higher and see a way to climb out of the trap of poverty and have the strength and ongoing support to stay the course. So, for a night, a group of us prepared meals and gift bags and served the people temporarily living at Hope House. Because that is work that needs to be done. But at Hope House Mission, they are doing the things best expressed by the old Chinese proverb: “You give a poor man a fish and you feed him for a day. You teach him to fish and you give him an occupation that will feed him for a lifetime.”
By Frank Rocco Satullo