Dear friend of Loaves & Fishes,
May the blessings of the holiday season warm you and yours this year.
Warmth, compassion and hospitality welcome each of our guests at Loaves & Fishes every day. They arrive weary from hardship and in need, seeking nourishment and a restoring of hope. We are frequently reminded that renewal knows no boundaries as, time and again, we have witnessed the incredible resilience of the human spirit. We've seen transformation spring from the most unlikely of sources. With that, we'd like to introduce you to Lucille.
For years Lucille was a daily guest of Maryhouse. With many other women and families she received vital, life-sustaining resources, such as food, showers, clothes, and toiletry items. Lucille was a fixture, always sitting in her chair in the Maryhouse lobby, persistently angry and hostile. As mental illness took hold, she became increasingly despondent and unable to care for herself; her life was no longer manageable. Confused and disoriented, her thoughts were often persecutory and there was no escape from the voices. She pushed a cart, slept in parking garages, and believed Federal Marshals embedded a "two-way radio" in her shoe. Thinking others were out to harm her, Lucille was often involved in conflicts. She had no friends and was estranged from her family. Multiple incarcerations and involuntary hospitalizations did little to interrupt her ten years of chronic homelessness.
A breakthrough finally occurred when Lucille was given a Haldol injection, effectively extinguishing the auditory and visual hallucinations. Without delusional thoughts, Lucille began to "feel like her old self" again. It was then that a Maryhouse staff member was able to reach Lucille for the first time in years. As it so often does, an interpersonal connection helped foster personal growth. With gentle guidance from Maryhouse, Lucille accessed multiple Loaves & Fishes programs. She began weekly mental health counseling at Genesis to help cope with the years lost, the relationships broken. Case-management with Maryhouse staff ensured follow-through with important tasks such as applying for social security and securing ongoing psychotropic medication. A motel voucher was provided until Lucille could enter transitional housing and eventually be housed at Sister Nora's Place. With the supportive mentoring and friendships of Sister Nora's, she finally achieved stability. She utilized this time of safety and security to explore her past and define steps toward her future. Lucille also began writing letters to her family and made contact with her ninety-four year old mother, who had long assumed her daughter was dead.
The comprehensive care provided by Loaves & Fishes helped Lucille rediscover herself and learn essential life skills required for independence. All efforts reached fruition this fall when, through the assistance of a federal program, HPRP (Homelessness Prevention and Rapid ReHousing), Lucille moved into her own apartment! With an infectious enthusiasm and soft demeanor, Lucille's concerns are now about furniture, daily chores, budgeting and entertaining house guests. In order to maintain self sufficiency and stay connected to her community, Lucille continues to utilize the Loaves & Fishes programs who embraced her in her darkest hour. She has ongoing counseling at Genesis and now, when she visits Maryhouse, it's to give back by donating diapers and formula to other families in need.
Lucille personifies the restorative nature of Loaves & Fishes. Her story reminds us that a miracle awaits each warm greeting, welcoming smile, or calling a guest by name. In this season of giving, it is your gift of generosity and financial support that allows us to serve each person with the belief that “as often as you did it for one of my least brothers and sisters, you did it for me” (Matthew, 25:40).
In this season of miracles, we are delighted to share with you the ongoing “Miracle on North C Street.”