For the first time in over two years, Christ House staff gathered for an in-person staff retreat in November 2022. Potter’s House generously hosted our group, providing a hot breakfast and coffee. The focus of this retreat, as shared by our Chaplain, Charles, was to take time to simply be together with one another. Part of this retreat included a reflection shared by our Clinical Support Manager, John Craig. We’d like to share this reflection with you all below as it does a beautiful job of describing the Christ House community and its resilience. We hope you enjoy it.
Stopping to Help
There was a letter to a magazine I read not too long ago that has stayed with me. A woman was driving down a highway during the winter with her husband when she thought she saw a body on the side of the road. She muttered this to her husband and they turned the car around. She called 911 and approached the person asking if he was okay. He was experiencing homelessness, aiming to walk over thirty miles to his next destination. The woman and the sheriff who arrived connected him with a local shelter, and she never saw him again, but remarked that “he is still with me.” You can read the story which starts “Early one winter morning” here.
Thinking about this story, I’m not sure that I would’ve stopped that morning. I imagine myself sipping a cup of coffee, listening to the news maybe munching on an Egg McMuffin as I headed down the highway. I definitely would have been in a hurry – places to be – things to do. Lost in my own thoughts. No time to notice what’s around me.
But I do believe that if I saw some people on the side of the road helping, I would have stopped to assist. And in a sense, we are all here today because there was something in the message and goals of Christ House that resonated with us – we all stopped to help.
We are all connected here today by a shared value of concern and of service and it is manifested every day in the sharing of our roles and our individual gifts in an effort to help others heal. What a neat thing that really is!
We each have a role to play and I often think about all the different roles there are at Christ House.
The kitchen every day provides nutrition and healing and community.
Our transportation driver takes pressure off patients’ shoulders in getting to crucial medical procedures, therapy or essential social services.
Nurses and nursing assistants provide patients life-giving care and structure and compassion and grace every day.
Providers are part detective, healer, counselor, and cheerleader.
The activity coordinator and volunteers truly promote normalization of life and beckon our patients to see their own talents.
Kairos Program staff provides loving service and community to so many every day.
The Chaplains provide an open ear and comfort and no judgement.
Social workers help individuals along the road to restoration, piece by piece. No small matter!
Cleaning and maintenance staff do an incredible job each day of keeping Christ House and Kairos clean and healthy and functioning.
Addictions counselors direct and share the difficult road back to recovery with grace and dignity.
Administration and accounting staff provide all of us with structure and direction and accountability.
Development staff make all the above possible!
These are all pieces of a whole that combined with each of our own individual gifts can provide healing not only for our patients but for ourselves.
Now, I know the last two plus years have not been easy. Working with our health care system, homelessness and mental illness is tough enough. But the pandemic has taken an additional toll on all of us.
We all know or know of people who have died. As the numbers grew it was overwhelming. We all watched friends and family members struggle with COVID-19. We struggled to keep them safe, and ourselves safe. We became isolated, unable to travel or physically embrace.
Parents became teachers and Zoom technicians. Keeping their children occupied and safe 24/7 while still trying to maintain a work balance. Somehow politics became entwined with COVID-19 and the world seemed crazy, and it was.
I heard several of my coworkers say that the best way through this was to concentrate on the good done at Christ House each day. Concentrate on your job, concentrate on the patients, concentrate on your coworkers.
Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, who helped start the hospice movement for terminally ill patients, has spent her life not necessarily curing people – but healing them. She said that we are all healers of the world. It’s not about healing the world by making a huge difference, it’s about healing the world that touches you – and that’s where our power lies.
We saw it every day at Christ House. In a smile (under a mask of course), a good morning, ice cream celebrations while still isolating, concern for each other professionally and personally. Through the years I’ve always felt that what has gotten me to work each day were the patients that we serve and my coworkers. That is just as true today as ever. By committing ourselves to others, we help in healing ourselves.
We are so thankful that 37 years ago our founding staff decided to take in a person who found himself homeless and sick and they put health and healing and community around him. That Community became Christ House and Kairos House. And I am so grateful today for all of you who continue that tradition.
You all decided to stop and help! And you are much appreciated.