Sometimes people call me an inspiration. Sometimes they call me a role model. Sometimes they even go as far as to call me a hero. And while I do love the ego stroke, the fact of the matter is that I am none of those things.
To me the heroes are the 9-5 workers who work all day and still volunteer until 2 am. The heroes are the students who volunteer from 2am to 8 am and then go to class right after (often squeezing in homework and studying between guests’ stories or crises). The heroes are the retirees who could be spending their hard earned free time relaxing but instead spend it volunteering. These heroes help make the Warming Room into a home. You make the lives of both staff and guests so much easier and fuller by giving your time. Without you all, we would not be the place that we are.
To me the role models are Lynda and Liz for organizing the nightly meals that have changed the way the Warming Room runs. The role models are the people who spend all day making delicious food for the guests (and occasionally very grateful and hungry staff members). They keep everyone’s bellies full on those long cold nights (that would be way colder and miserable without the amazing food contributions) and supply us with milk and cream to keep our coffee drinkable (trust me I make the worst coffee known to mankind. The milk and cream helps mask it).
To me the inspirations are the guests. They have every reason in the world to be in awful moods but they always come in with smiles on their faces, willing to join us in movie watching or card games (both often filled with stories from their lives). They share their extreme gratitude for even the smallest of tasks or gestures. They continue to hope for a better future in the face of extreme adversity and that is the most inspiring thing of all. Their courage and never giving up helps me go on in my darkest of days.
As we head into 2016, I want each and every person associated with the Warming Room to remember their roles and how important they all are to us continuing to be the best place we can possibly be. While at times I may get the compliments that you all deserve, make no mistake, I’m not the hero of this story, you all are.
Happy 2016. May it be everything you desire.
- Andrew N