February is the “love month”. In the midst of winter, we are reminded about the human connection of love. Red hearts are everywhere. And if cupid was animated and not just a paper cut-out, hardly a heart would be missed.
Even at the YMCA, I was struck by a love message. I have been going to the Y in my constant campaign to loose a few pounds. Well, maybe a few more than a few. It's a slow process, but I have managed to increase my swim time to ½ mile and my elliptical cross trainer to 45 minutes. Yes, you can cheer me on!!
But getting back to the love message. The Y has a bulletin board with a new saying every day. On February 14th, the message was:
YOU CAN GIVE WITHOUT LOVING....
BUT YOU CANNOT LOVE WITHOUT GIVING.
I got to thinking ...about how this message gets played out through the Lafayette Urban Ministry.
Since returning here after 18 years, I am struck by the way LUM touches the lives of so many. Young and old, hungry and distressed, all are welcomed by LUM. While at the same time, LUM brings together volunteers and financial gifts in a life changing community ministry. LUM continues to offer more than food or shelter or other family supports. Always LUM strives to connect in ways that offer respect, dignity and positive hope in what can be some rather desperate situations.
Recently, an unexpected connection happened between two people who never met. A long time friend of LUM won a gift in a raffle during a local bank's promotion. Her prize???
A BRAND NEW BRIGHT GREEN BIKE!!!
She immediately called LUM and we thought of a guest at our shelter.
The young man became homeless when he lost his job. With no paycheck, he soon lost his apartment and was becoming more depressed. He turned to alcohol and it began to take him down. Something had to change. He turned to a local Church and the church secretary suggested that he go to LUM. She said, “I think they will be able to help.”
What might have been a “bad news” story started to look better.
He was welcomed at the LUM shelter. For the first time in many days, he had a nutritious meal. That night, he was off the streets and had a warm safe place to sleep.
And just as important, he found people who cared and were prepared to help. An outreach nurse gave him a medical check-up. Everyone was concerned when his blood pressure registered 190/148. LUM got him back on his blood pressure medicine. Slowly he stabilized and began to have hope for the future.
Like all of LUM's shelter guests, he met with one of the volunteer case managers. Together they talked about plans for getting Mark back on his feet. He registered for job placement at Purdue and he began using a computer to type up his resume and apply for jobs on-line.
That's when LUM offered the BRIGHT GREEN BIKE to him.
“Wow!” said Mark. “Now I can get around. I put the bike on the bus and get out to those businesses on the edge of town. You know, it is better to apply for jobs when they can see you eye to eye.” He is still working his plan. His blood pressure is down to 98/70. He says he is feeling a lot better. And maybe for the first time in a long time, he knows that others are pulling for him.
Even though he never met the woman who donated the BRIGHT GREEN BIKE, the two of them are now connected. And it makes a difference....February is the “love month.”