When My Sister’s Place Women’s Center hands out a to-go meal to clients these days, it comes with a kind word. Literally.
Staff in the women’s day shelter and resource center have started writing quick notes of inspiration, encouraging quotes, or simple, happy pictures on the take out containers and paper bags holding the meals.
“Look for the rainbow.”
“You deserve every good thing that comes your way.”
“We love you.”
“Your wings already exist. All you have to do is fly to success.”
“Thinking of you”
“We miss our clients. We miss our friends,” explained Volunteer Manager Julie Martin.
The notes continue a tradition at the center, which began collecting short letters of encouragement last summer, and leaving them in a bucket beside the sign-in sheet for clients.
“Clients were really loving it,” Martin said. “They would pick a letter, read it, and show it to each other. … But our bucket was constantly empty.”
The tradition migrated to a central bulletin board, where volunteers, staff, and clients can leave written messages of encouragement for anyone who needs a pick-me-up. Martin said volunteers – especially younger people – often worry about what to write.
“Students will often ask, ‘What can I say to someone who’s experiencing homelessness?’” Martin said. “It doesn’t matter your circumstances, you can still connect to someone and … offer them hope and support.”
My Sister’s Place Women’s Center made the difficult decision to close its dayroom on March 19, due to the spread of COVID-19. While it continued serving meals, all were distributed in to-go containers – which present an ideal canvas for pictures and short quotes.
Catholic Charities staff who don’t normally work in the kitchen are helping to prepare meals, and have been happy to pick up a marker to continue the tradition of support.
“It’s really just about taking a couple seconds out of your day to really wish the best for someone else,” Martin said.