From Recipient to Partner
October 31, 2008 Leave a comment
Each week our Homeless Task Force offers showers. We realized that after the showers the stalls would be filled with bottles of shampoo and partially used bars of soap. We were having a hard time keeping those items stocked so we decided something needed to change.
In the past, we’ve simply offered free food and free showers with nothing expected in return. While that felt good at first, we began to see that giving stuff for free without any expectation of exchange actually separated us from the neighbors we are called to love. One-way charity at arms length is easy and feels good for the givers, but it creates a false perception that we the givers have everything, and our homeless neighbors are empty vessels with nothing to offer.
So, when the shampoo and soap problem came along we decided rather than perpetuating the charity mindset, we would put it in the hands of the people who use the showers. We alerted all of the “regulars” of the problem and appointed three leaders to take care of it.
Since then, Sharon (changed name), one of the homeless appointees has been regularly picking up shampoo, soap, powder and other items that are used on Saturday mornings. When we recognized that the neighbors weren’t just needy, and invited them to take part, leaders emerged. Had we the “givers” simply solved the problem ourselves, we would have missed out on the opportunity to involve Sharon in the solution. That to me is a picture of the Kingdom…neighbors moving from recipient to partner, from poor to contributor, from betterment to development.