The headlines in the newspaper, the sound bites on the radio, and the lead stories on the evening news, don’t seem to be getting any better. One day it’s the housing industry that’s in crisis, next it’s the auto business and then it’s the banks. The market is down and unemployment is up. All of us are wondering when the economy is going to bottom out and the recovery will begin. I’m very fortunate that I continue to get to work at Open Arms where every day we see hopeful signs of an eventual recovery.
Let me be clear, I’m not saying that the recession doesn’t continue to present challenges for Open Arms. We have had to suspend the inclusion of orange juice and yogurt with our clients’ deliveries. We have implemented hiring and salary freezes while reducing the benefits we offer our employees. We worry that we can’t possibly keep up with the increasing demand for services.
What I mean when I say that we are seeing sings of a turn-around is in the very atmosphere that permeates Open Arms every day of the week. Long-serving volunteers continue to give us their time – cooking and packaging meals, delivering those meals throughout the Twin Cities, and helping us in the office. Many new people have begun volunteering in this tough time because they realize that the needs are even greater now and that there is much that can be done to address those needs. Yes, we are seeing some new volunteers who unexpectedly find themselves unemployed. For all of our volunteers – but especially those who are struggling in this economy – Open Arms has become a refuge from the unsettling headlines and sound bites.
Today, most of us are faced with tremendous challenges; and things may, in fact, get worse before they get better. It seems that there are some things that we have little or no control over. We can, however, still create a positive environment where the community continues to come together to make sure that people who are sick, don’t have to go hungry. There has always been a need for Open Arms – perhaps no more than right now. Fortunately, this community has always risen to meet that need. And this generosity of spirit is a very hopeful sign that this difficult period, too, shall pass.