Our Community Blog: T.J. Putman, Director, Family Promise Salem Affiliate, “Seen and Unseen”

February 14, 2017

T.J. Putman

There’s a ding on the wall!  There are  dishes in the sink!!  There are unpacked boxes on floor!!! There is a spot on the carpet!!!!   There is a dead spot on the lawn!!!!!!

Today I met with one of regular Office Angel Volunteers and we shared a little about how things were going, vision for Family Promise and other happenings at our Affiliate.   She mentioned that one of the guests spilled red Kool-Aid on the carpet while the 8 kids in our program were running around and playing this morning.

I smiled.

I knew the stain is temporary, we’ll use carpet shampooer and clean it up.  I’m grateful that we have kids in our program who like each other, they’re comfortable playing in our Day Center and they have a mom that took the time to make them Kool-Aid.

The carpet stain served as a good reminder that 1) Nothing’s ever perfect.  2) We need to keep our eyes on the important things.  Looking a bit deeper into the imperfections at the Day Center:

  • The “ding” on the wall came from a really nice bed set.  It was donated by a couple who wanted it to go to a good home. There were 4 volunteers helping their family move and accidentally bumped the wall.  Two months earlier, the recipient was sleeping outside in 40-degree weather by the river.
  • The dishes in the sink came from a batch of cookies one of our guests prepared.  A new family moved into our program and she wanted them to feel welcomed.   2 months earlier, she didn’t have a kitchen to prepare cookies.
  • Lawn spot?  It was done by 15 volunteers who wanted to make our yard a fun place for kids to play.  All of the seed didn’t take and one spot is a little bare.  It’s a good reminder that people care and want to come alongside our program to make our community better.
  • The unpacked boxes?  Earlier this week, a volunteer heard that a family was moving into their new home.  Her mother passed away 4 months ago and needed an excuse to go through her stuff.  It helped her get closure and leave a legacy with her mother’s estate.

These “imperfections” were all the result of something much larger- community building. Our model allows this to happen on so many different levels and in a profound way that reaches further than we will know. This unique set-up fosters a co-mingling of individuals from all different walks of life. It encourages them to come together in order to strengthen and improve our community at large. So when I look at the stain on the carpet, the dishes in the sink, or the spot on the lawn, I no longer see them as imperfections. I see them as welcome marks our community has left behind.

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