Copyright 2018 Women's Resource Center of Tampa . All Rights Reserved.
‘Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced” – Psalm 105:1-5 (NIV)
“Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your many blessings, see what God has done.” (Hymn by Johnson Oatman, Jr.) Needs are being met and lives are being changed, one by one, at the Women’s Resource Center (WRC). With an emphasis on assisting women and families, this faith based, not for profit organization is working with those who are homeless, hungry, unemployed and the complications that these conditions create. Each client and each situation is unique. WRC coordinates resources with local agencies, maintains a well-stocked clothing closet and food pantry, as well as providing emergency shelter through the Little White House.
Only by the grace of God, I have never experienced being without shelter, clothing or food. I can’t begin to imagine the toll it takes on the mind, body, and soul to try and navigate such dire circumstances. If you’re like me, you know how it can make you feel when you skip a meal during the day. Most often, when skipping a meal, I become irritable and begin to find it hard concentrate. Now imagine the negative effects of hunger and multiply them by more than the occasional missed meal. At the WRC, we understand the importance of meeting the most basic need of nutrition before we move forward and assist a client with clothing, housing, and employment. When you’re hungry and lacking the resources for proper nutrition, everything else is secondary.
A young lady (we’ll call her Joan/not her real name) was referred to the WRC from an area church. Simply put, Joan was unable to feed her family. Understandably, Joan was crying and completely distraught as she entered the Women’s Resource Center. She was a woman who was obviously out of resources to help her family with their dire situation. We consoled Joan and quickly prepared a much needed meal for her while she explained the turn of events that had brought her to this moment. Joan had not received a check that was the part of her family’s budget she used to buy groceries. Yes, for too many families, one check can mean the difference in being able to buy groceries or not. Joan’s husband, wanting the family to have what food was left, had gone without for several days. We were humbled by his sacrifice of self for the sake of his family. After Joan finished the meal, she thanked us profusely and we were able to move to the next step of discussing solutions for her family. From our pantry at WRC, the volunteers selected food items that would meet her family’s needs during their temporary hardship. It’s hard to put into words how joyful it was to gather those bags of groceries and place them in the trunk of Joan’s car. Knowing hers was a temporary situation, WRC had again “stood in the gap” for another hurting and hungry child of God. A family in crisis found love and solutions through Him, His love, His grace, and His helpers. Counting my blessings, seeing what God has done…and continues to do.
Volunteer, Women’s Resource Center
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you….plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
Tears of joy rolled down our faces as we reflected on what God had just done – again. Through volunteering at the Women’s Resource Center (WRC), it is amazing to watch how God works in both the lives of the women in need and in the lives of the volunteers who serve. On this particular day, a precious client (we’ll call her Mary / not her real name) had secured employment and was now in need of appropriate clothing to begin her new job.
Mary shared with us her style preferences and sizes as we carefully searched for just the right tops, pants, sweaters, jackets and shoes to help her feel her best. As Mary tried on several style combinations – many being either the wrong style and/or fit, we didn’t give up and were relentless in our pursuit of the perfect wardrobe for this beautiful and deserving woman. Through trial and error, Mary found several outfits that fit her perfectly and made her feel confident, great, and ready. She was smiling from ear to ear. We carefully placed Mary’s clothing choices on hangers, bundled and bagged each one. And because of a generous donation of plastic garment bags from Stein Mart to WRC, Mary’s new professional wardrobe was not only protected but also had the look and feel of coming from a department store. Before we helped Mary out to her car, our WRC Executive Director, Cheryl Hickman, led us in a beautiful prayer of thanksgiving. She thanked God and gave Him the glory for all He has done will continue to do for Mary and her family. We helped Mary carry her items to her car and placed them in her trunk. She turned and hugged each one of us, thanking us over and over. We walked back into the WRC feeling so happy for Mary and very excited about her future.
About fifteen minutes had gone by, and we had moved on to discussing some new training materials, when Mary walked back in the door. We were surprised to see her and wondered if she had left something behind. She humbly began to address us, “I just had to come back and tell you all what this day has meant to me. The clothes totally exceeded my expectation. I had hoped for a couple of pants or tops to start my new job, but you sent me home with so much more. These clothes will help me as I start my new job. More than the clothes – I want you to know, I’ve never been shown the kindness that all of you have shown to me today and you need to know how very special you made me feel. It means so much to me, and I want to give you something too.” She handed us a small gift bag.
“I have 2 gift cards that I want you to have. Maybe you could get sandwiches for lunch. I just want you to know how grateful I am.” As Mary walked away – tears flowed and we were speechless. I will never forget that day, that moment, Mary’s beautiful spirit, and the blessing she left on each of our hearts.
Volunteer, Women’s Resource Center