This past week, a woman came into NOAH for the first time. For this post, I’ll call her Debra. She had recently been to a hand specialist to get her wrist checked out which has been causing her a significant amount of pain. The hand specialist wrote her a prescription for a wrist and thumb brace, but when she went to place the order at her pharmacy, she was told her insurance did not cover the brace. Debra has insurance through the Healthy Michigan Plan (also called Expanded Medicaid), but without insurance the brace would cost over $100. Her friend, who is a regular client at NOAH, suggested she come to here because we can sometimes help with prescriptions.
As I met with Debra, she told me about how she injured her hand and how it hasn’t healed properly, preventing her from returning to work. We called the pharmacy NOAH has a connection with, along with a few medical agencies we are partners with, but none of them had any of the braces in stock. The two of us were disappointed at the end of the day, but Debra left her phone number with me and I told her I would continue working on it and would let her know if I found anything.
A few hours later, I was told by the building receptionist saying that someone called and was going to drop off a brace shortly. I was confused, because none of our partners said that they had the brace. Within the next hour, I heard a knock on my office door. Standing there was Stanley, an EMT who works with Covenant Community Care and does medical outreach at NOAH once a week. He was holding a brand new wrist brace. He told me that he had heard that we called and knew where to find a brace. He explained to me how to have Debra use this brace and how to fit it to her specifications. He told me we did not owe them any money for the supplies and if we ever need anything like this to just call him.
When Debra came in the next day and she was thrilled as I fit the brace to her wrist and thumb. She thanked me for all my work on it and for not giving up in reaching out to our partner agencies. With this brace she can begin to heal and regain stability in her life.
It is when we work together as social service agencies that the most good is able to happen. With the help of Covenant Community Care, who do outreach at NOAH every week, our clients are able to sign up for health insurance, be transported to their medical and dental clinic, and receive medical care (from Stanley) on-site. It is experiences like this when I appreciate the “N” in NOAH. When we Network with other agencies, organizations, and people, our impact can be limitless. It is for these reasons and more I give thanks for the power of partnerships.
Sometimes it is the little moments that happen at NOAH that remind me why we do what we do. Yesterday I saw many clients for casework but I must share about one in particular. This man, who we will call Mark, requested to see me for casework and came back to the office and we began to talk. Mark is a regular client at NOAH, though not one who opens up very frequently. In the past few months he has been involved with a woman who also came to NOAH, but recently she moved away and broke things off with Mark. In the last month he has had to start fresh and has been doing everything he can to find a job. Well yesterday Mark wanted to see me because he wanted to share that he now has a job, a job that is 40 hours a week and earns decent pay. With tears in his eyes Mark shared this great news.
He then went on to share about how hard this last month has been and how he has had to try to forgive himself for his actions when the woman he was with was around. He explained to me how upset he was with himself and that it is was not his normal behavior. Mark thanked me for always showing him love and grace even when he was not always respectful towards us. He then asked me how he could forgive himself for some of his past actions. He shared that he was so grateful for our forgiveness, but how could he work things out between him and the “big man upstairs” so that he could forgive himself?
This question hit me hard as I have a difficulty forgiving myself when I know that I have been in the wrong. I shared this with Mark and in a conversation of honesty and openness there was a shared sense of appreciation for the other. I shared with Mark how some days it is about taking it one step at a time. How some days it is reminding myself that I am worth love. How proud of him I was for the steps he has taken. I celebrated this new job with him and for his new sense of self. Mark thanked me again for giving him and everyone else here many second chances. He said it was rare for a place to show so much love and grace but he was thankful that we have been that in his life. With huge smiles across our faces and hearts full, Mark and I walked out of my office, grateful for the love shown and experienced.
It is in moments like this one that I am reminded of how special a place NOAH is. I am reminded of my call to be at NOAH, and how blessed I am each day to call this place, work. But you see NOAH is so much more than work for me, but it is my passion, and my love, and my family. It is the place I get to give and receive love and hospitality every day, even when I too feel unworthy of that love. How will you show love today, in a way that people like Mark know that they are cared for and accepted, even after many second chances? And thank you for being part of the NOAH family, whether near in Detroit or on the other side of the country. Your support makes a difference and allows us to continue to show love and grace in radical ways.