Other Voices: First-hand account of true hospitality
People fear that which they do not understand … it’s an unfortunate truism … and I was as guilty of this as anyone.
My background is that of a liberal upper middle class family. I’m well educated, well traveled, and woefully unprepared for life’s hard knocks. I suffer from post traumatic stress disorder and have debilitating anxiety and panic attacks. My son, Jeremy, is a cancer survivor, disabled by a malignant brain tumor at the age of 12. We’ve both endured more than our share of troubles.
Jeremy and I were dropped off at the Hospitality House on Colfax Avenue one cold March evening. We were going to beg to stay at a homeless shelter, of all things.
My preconceptions of a shelter were along the lines of a ghastly Oliver-Twist-type den of iniquity where good people were at the mercy of the dregs of humanity. Definitely not true.
At the top of the stairs, we were welcomed by warm smiles and compassionate help. We were given hot coffee and warm blankets and led onto the bus. We were taken to a church where even more people waited to serve us a hot meal and help us bed down for the night.
As the days went by, we met many good people who had experienced similar disasters in their lives. We were not alone and we learned from each other that being homeless is not shameful. For many it’s what happens when events occur beyond our control.
All of us at Hospitality House needed help in getting our lives back on track. The staff and volunteers guided us to the proper agencies. We were given hope when we felt hopeless. Many of us needed medical attention, and that was offered, free of charge. We were all poor in spirit, as well as poor financially. Hospitality House gave us a lifeline to pull ourselves out of our despair.
Due to the help of the staff at Hospitality House, my son and I are no longer homeless. I am a caregiver and cook for a wonderful woman and her family. I’ve been given an opportunity to prove my worth to myself and others.
Hospitality House is so much more than a shelter for the homeless. It’s a guide for those who have lost their way, for whatever reason. It’s run by those who realize that homelessness can happen to anyone. People helping people is what it’s all about.
I beg you to think hard, and consider how differently my story would have ended without Hospitality House being there for me and my son.
Thank you and bless you.
Sharon and Jeremy Bell live in Nevada City.
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