I retired last year, and I wanted to find something I could do that made a difference. I started volunteering at the Mission’s Donation Center last summer.

Then, I wanted to connect with the people who are receiving the donations I’d been organizing. So, I started volunteering in the clothing closet, too. I became known by the staff and guests because I went every week.

I don’t mind doing the sorting and organizing part of it, but the more gratifying piece, for me, is when I get to help the people who are staying in the shelter get clothes and items they really need.

Some people just need the basics, some need clothes for their job, or they’ve got a court date.

A fellow a few weeks ago said, “I’m getting my two-month sobriety coin and I want to have decent clothes to wear to the ceremony.” Another fellow was so excited because he was starting a job the next day and we got him all outfitted for that.

My heart was so full. That’s what’s the most meaningful to me.

I used to be fairly judgmental about the homeless population. This has been extraordinarily eye-opening to me. I feel more empathetic now, because I have a better understanding of some of the challenges they face every day. It’s an opportunity, even though it may be small, to feel like you’re making some sort of difference.

I think getting to know people, getting to understand their situation a little bit, having them recognize you, and start to trust you is what it’s all about. I can imagine that it’s very difficult for some of these folks to trust because trust has been broken so many times.

Just a little bit of kindness goes a long, long way.

For me personally, it feeds my soul, or I wouldn’t be here so many times.

Everyone has been very welcoming and so appreciative. When I started, everybody on staff, without exception, introduced themselves to me and told me a little bit about what they do. They’re very willing to express appreciation and never fail to do so.

To me that’s impressive as an outsider coming in to see, because if that’s a reflection of the company culture and the values, it clearly is being embodied by the staff.

You can make a difference, like Anne, by engaging as a volunteer at the Mission. To learn more and sign up, visit our Volunteer Page!