A Moment of Grace

| March 20, 2017 | 0 Comments

William S. Taft

Thrive DC is a very special program that provides for the needs of the homeless in Washington, DC. It operates in the basement of St. Stephens Church on 16th Street, NW and offers food, laundry services, showers and a number of training programs for its clients.

I volunteer weekly at the program and one of my jobs is to take the names of the guests as they arrive for breakfast in the morning. I love this job because it allows me to get to know the guests and to learn their names. Many are regulars and I derive great satisfaction when I can greet them by name and even have a brief conversation as they check in.

A couple of weeks ago, there was an incident that was so touching, I wanted to share it here. On this day, most of the guests had arrived and the dining room was pretty full. As usual, there was a lot of conversation and laughter. I was having a conversation with Brian, a staff member, and William Taft, another volunteer.  William is a handsome man who has a radio voice, dreadlocks and a winning smile. Years ago, William was a client of Thrive and, in appreciation, he returns to the breakfast program almost every day to provide emotional and spiritual support for the guests.  William thrives on intellectual discourse and, when he’s not encouraging clients and staff, he is engaged in deep philosophical discussions.

We were probably talking about the meaning of life when a woman came in who was clearly in pain, not physical pain, but emotional pain. Her face was wracked. She was so stressed she couldn’t speak. I asked her for her name, but she didn’t – or couldn’t – respond. She just stood there looking like she was carrying all the anxiety in the world on her shoulders.

William asked her if she was alright. No answer. Just pain in her face. He asked her again. Nothing. Then he said, “You need a hug,” and walked over and wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close to him. She leaned into him and put her face on his chest. They held that pose for a long time. Her face softened a bit. After a while, they separated and William kissed her on the cheek, saying, “You need to pray, dear, just pray, and you’ll be fine.” She proceeded to her table, seemingly somewhat relieved, and William departed.

The incident illustrated what, for me, the best thing about Thrive DC. There is a spirit of community that surrounds the organization. The direct services provided are necessary for the body, but the community serves the soul. Who’s to say which is the more valuable?  Both are necessary and both can be found at Thrive DC.

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