Outreach’s spirit of optimism and encouragement are constant

Published 8:00 pm Wednesday, July 29, 2015

When I arrived at Outreach, I didn’t know what lay ahead. I learned that life for the people served by Outreach can be chaotic, not what most of the people I have known experience.  Outreach serves a large number of people who are on fixed incomes, and whose life is unlikely to change. We see them regularly.  If you have ever seen a rough patch in your life, you know how awful it can feel, even shameful and downright hopeless. We are but people, and in a bad stretch, the kindness of a little help matters.

Some of the people we serve share in amazing ways.  We hear, “I am so grateful for what you have done for me and my family.  I will clean your toilets, don’t you worry about that.”

“You gave me hope when I didn’t think there was any left.”

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“I didn’t want to ask for help because I have worked hard all my life, but I didn’t know where to turn.  No one at Outreach made me feel bad because I needed food.”

“When my husband got sick the medical bills piled up, he couldn’t work.  The cupboard didn’t have but a few boxes of cereal.  We couldn’t make it on my income alone.  I am so thankful you were there to help us go through this time in our lives.  I am glad it is behind us and now we can give back.”

Outreach gives a spot of help that takes the hopelessness away, if only briefly. The gift of a listening ear or a referral to a needed resource is shared with a gentle spirit by volunteers. They absorb the problems they hear and find a new meaning for the word, “gratitude.”  Other nonprofits share their services at Outreach to make life work in the Foothills. From the volunteer board member to the person who packs weekend food for school children or splits and stacks wood for heat and cooking — helping others is what Outreach is about.

Conversations in the community about the lives and choices “some” people make will always be there. Everyone has an opinion about how to achieve change. For all of us, being ready to work and finding work that affords a path to some financial stability is critical. Even as people begin to work, they have all kinds of skills to learn. For many served by Outreach, figuring out how to pay for free childcare which they lost when their paycheck was $2 over the benefits eligibility limit is a challenge. Determination is required to care for your children and do a good job so you can climb the financial ladder, if there is one. Even when employed, Outreach will likely be needed from time to time.

There is room in this community to help our brother by sharing some of the lessons, skills and support that makes life more comfortable and successful. Time, desire and effort contribute to change, regardless of your income level.

As Outreach approaches its 25th year, a change in organizational leadership is in process. The board has selected a youthful, caring person in George Alley to be the executive director to move the organization forward. The spirit of hopefulness that Outreach provides is in good hands. I am grateful and optimistic that Outreach can be a place of encouragement, a place to share values and opportunities that serve to improve a person’s outlook on their future. Life is better when we help one another.

By Carol Newton