Thursday, March 21, 2013

"Can You Help Me?"

"Can you help me?" Those four words can conjure up many thoughts and emotions in different people. For some, it reminds them of someone asking for a hand out; asking them to give up something they worked for or their hard earned down time just so someone else can get a free ride. The question may come to you in different ways. Can you spare a quarter? Do you have anything to give? Can you come spend time with me? No matter how the question is posed, we've all been asked in some way at one time or another. And if I'm being honest, I've been on the end of that question and thought, "Why?". Why can't you just take care of yourself? Why do I have to be brought into this? I can't tell you why someone needs your help or why they are there in front of you in need. But what I can tell you is what is at the core of my heart and the entire reason that I devote my time to the Lincoln Park Community Shelter.

It doesn't matter why. It doesn't matter why someone needs your help or what brought them to asking you. What matters is, "Can you help me?" For me, those four words pull at the very essence of being human. The idea that someone, no matter who, needs your help or is lacking in some way - that is enough to reach out. At some point, somewhere, we've all been in need. Hopefully few of us will know what it means to be in a position where we have to reach out to strangers for help. But, luckily, we all know what the generosity of another can do for us in our time of need. Help from someone doesn't relieve us from our responsibilities or mean we can take the day off. Help means we have support and we have a chance to get on our feet. Help can be just what we needed to believe in ourselves again.

It's true that some people hear "Can you help me?" and ask themselves what they are going to get out of it. If you volunteer with the Lincoln Park Community Shelter, you are going to get joy, appreciation in the eyes of their Guests, and incredible gratitude from both the Guests and the staff. And while this has been a gift for me over the last six months, the biggest thing I get out of helping is the progress I see. No one took anything from me, or asked for a handout. They needed just a little more than they had on their own in that moment. And with it, they grew and helped in return. No matter how you look at the answer to the question; "Can you help me?" you can rest assured that the help of another person is the greatest benefit you will receive and can give.

And if you still find yourself pausing to answer someone in need, remember the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: "To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded."

By: Tyler Lewis, LPCS Volunteer

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