Story of the Week
My story isn't about anyone individual in particular, but rather the collection of individuals who come by and give me the wonderful gift of their presence. Each interaction usually starts really small--it could be a knock on the window and, since they come by often, I recognize them. I begin to check their mail. Sometimes there are packages and checks, other times just junk mail, while some days there is nothing at all. But regardless this is always just the beginning (or at least I hope).
I open the door to inform them of their mail check results. Sometimes this opens a space to vent frustration about the slow pace of the post office or share a moment of happiness having received a handwritten letter. "Do you want any food to go?" I'll ask. "What do you have?" They respond. I go through the list of snacks and meals we have in our fridge and usually something is met with an enthusiastic yes. I package it and return to the door...."Do you need anything warm? Gloves? Hat? Scarves?" We try to find something matching, something that will fit their style.
From there the interaction can keep rolling until we are giving away some of the more obscure and less popular items or it just develops into a longer conversation about what is going on for people--"How is the Job? The weather? The dog?" And the hope the other is staying safe; "we will be on the other side of it soon". Regardless of the depth, or length, of these interactions they consistently open up more space for people to come to us and feel like we are a resource regardless of the specific item we provide on that given day. And most important, these interactions are a moment to smile. They reflect the simple joy in being able to connect, however briefly, with the other people in this silly universe.
"Would you like a soda?" I ask. "Sure", she says. "This one is blackberry but no sugar?" And I show her the can. "No that's great she said, I'm sweet enough already."
COTS Daystation is a safe space for homeless adults in Chittenden County to access shelter, services, and housing. The program is open 365 days a year, 9AM-5PM (with extended hours when the temperature is below freezing). Guests are provided with a nutritious meal, can take a shower, do laundry, get mail, and use a phone or computer – all with no cost to guests. Guests meet with staff to identify their needs, set goals, and access additional services with COTS and with community partners. Please note some of the above referenced services are drop-by only due to the COVID-19 pandemic.