January 19, 2011
Lending a Hand in Menlo Park
By Nacole Barth-Ellis, Shelter Network Committee Member
(Photo Left: Haven House residents, Right: Ashlin Mahood, Shelter Network Committee Member)
Who the heck am I? I'm a fraud. I've never been homeless. What can I possibly contribute this evening?
These were the thoughts running through my head on 1-11-11. I was expected to take an active role and lead a session on Time Management at Shelter Network's Haven Family House in Menlo Park and I was really nervous. Why? Please refer to the first sentence above.
A hand up, not a hand out is one of the cornerstones of Shelter Network. I am a strong believer in this concept and it helped me in making my decision to join the Shelter Network committee. But that belief didn't help me as I was en route to the shelter a few weeks ago. I didn’t feel like I had a lot to offer these people who were living in a situation that I could only imagine.
Two hours later I drove home both exhilarated and humbled. The residents of Haven House welcomed us and engaged us in their conversations, shared their lives with us. They each had different backgrounds and different current circumstances – much like those of us working on the Shelter Network committee.
I'm not sure who gained more that night, the residents or the committee members. I was proud to be a member of this committee where everyone shared their own experiences and insights to assist those living at Haven House. For we volunteers, we had an up close and personal look at what homelessness in our community looks like. I can't speak for my fellow committee members, but it's nothing like what I expected. I feel incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to help these individuals who are working to re-build a life of self-sufficiency.
To learn more about our Shelter Network Community Project and our other League Projects, Click Here