Jeannine and Diane have been volunteering with the Mission for years. They started in our Good Neighbor Café, prepping and serving meals. It quickly turned into a family affair when their kids joined. They’ve helped in many areas around the Mission since. Most recently, they started volunteering with the Search & Rescue team, our street outreach crew who go out every night to meet our unhoused neighbors right where they’re at. We sat down with Jeannine and Diane to hear more about their experience.

How were your first times volunteering with Search & Rescue?

Jeannine: I’d been wanting to do Search & Rescue for a long time. I think about the homeless not being seen, so going and being present where they’re at is something I felt called to do. What I didn’t expect was how I encountered Christ in the people. I knew from reading scripture that you can find Jesus in the suffering, in the hungry, and the homeless. But on Search & Rescue is where I saw it clearly. It was unsettling because there’s not much I have to offer people that are suffering other than food, water and just being present. But, I feel I need to be out there. And the other thing I wasn’t expecting was the love I had for the other volunteers in the van. They have the most beautiful hearts.

Diane: It felt like such an honor to serve with the Search & Rescue team who goes out week after week, day after day. It felt like an honor to sit beside them in the van and be able to just walk alongside what they do.

Were there particular moments or interactions that really impacted you?

Diane: There was a gentleman who was living in his truck. An older gentleman, probably in his seventies. He was so taken aback by us being kind and generous to him. As we left, he
said, “Go save more souls. You just saved one.” We just never know people’s stories. My uncle committed suicide in his homelessness. I just adored the man. So it’s close to my heart and I just love
that there are people willing to go and offer whatever somebody needs. To be kind and let people know, “we see you.” I think that’s something my uncle never felt like he had.

What do you want the people who are reading this to know?

Jeannine: It’s very easy to go through life with blinders on. To not look at people suffering. But I know most people still have big hearts. So I would encourage people to take a step out and see. Come face to face with homelessness. To stop and look at people on the street as humans who are suffering and not as a nuisance that needs to be moved from here to there.

Diane: I agree. If you believe, like Jeannine and I do, we’re talking about people created by God, in the image of God. Every single one is created by our creator for a purpose. They’re out here for different reasons and different things. It’s not always bad choices they’ve made. A lot of times it’s things that have happened to them or a response to trauma they’ve been through. One last thing is I love how the Search & Rescue staff really knew the people we met on the street. They’ve built real relationships and friendships with all the people we saw. It was amazing to witness.