By Donna Clark RN, Director
We here at H.O.P.E., Inc see many different people throughout the months. Sometimes it is just once and sometimes they become part of our “family”. We still see some clients from the early years as far back as 2003 and feel they are as much a part of this agency as we are. Our volunteers go the extra mile with support for these members of our family. One volunteer has been mentoring one person for about 6 years. Helping him maintain a roof over his head, function in society, manage his money, and in recent months assisting with his medications has been a full time job. The volunteer has helped care for the client, coordinating medical care, transporting him to hospitals and advocating for the client in the health care system. Being “on-call” 24/7 in the last months has taken a toll on our volunteer’s life and health. It’s impossible to say no when you care and love the person you are serving.
Over the years we have served many who became a part of our hearts. There was “Taz”, “Andrew”, “Puddles”, “Stanley” and many others whom we loved and cared about. Although the choices they made in life were not ones we would choose, they were our brothers and sisters in Christ. Each one brought a very special gift to our friendships; providing a mark on our hearts that will last a lifetime. I can still see their faces and hear their voices and laughter in my head. Our clients are more than clients; they are a gift from God bringing color and humor to our lives.
Today we had to say good bye to one more dear friend. He has been a fixture in the Salisbury community for many years. He and his dog, Gladys, touched the lives of many of you reading this article as they stood on the street corner panhandling. Elwood died this morning at Coastal Hospice.
It’s hard to describe the feeling we carry for those we serve. I like to think of it as being part of God’s work here on earth but it comes with a price. Losing a friend whom you have worked with and prayed for is painful. Actually not much different than losing anyone else; it just hurts.
We have a special file here in the office labeled Deceased. It continues to grow and as I look through it I have to say I get choked up. Every face, every story returns to my memory and I remember what each person left here on earth, their smiles, laughter, stubbornness, and most of all the love they shared with us. I thank God for each and every one of them.