Fundamental Change

What would you do if you could fundamentally change someone’s life?

How would you feel if you knew that one single action on your part, in one single moment of your day, could fundamentally change the lives of an entire family forever?

What if you could do the same thing for many other families?

SolitudeA disabled veteran needs help. He just returned from serving his country and he is confronted with unpaid bills, empty cupboards, and an eviction notice. His disability check will pay the monthly bills, but he has no way to stop the eviction process or pay the utility bills that have piled up in his absence.

He is dejected. He wants to provide for his family, so he swallows his pride and makes a phone call. He prays that God will send the help he so desperately needs.

A single mother and her family are barely surviving. She has cataracts and is legally blind. She can’t drive, she can’t work. She has two sons, both of whom need glasses themselves. They are maintaining their grades in school, but they could be doing much better if they themselves could see clearly. They spend much of their time helping their mama, and daily life is a constant struggle.

She is desperate. She wants her sons to succeed, so she too swallows her pride and makes a phone call. Her faith is strong, so she offers it up to God.

A young man is diagnosed with a serious eye problem. If he doesn’t get treatment, he will lose sight in his eye. His family gets him the immediate medical help he needs, but without insurance they soon find the bill unmanageable. The father is under-employed and the wife does what she can to supplement the family income, but no matter how much they try they just can’t seem to get ahead. They make payments when they can, but that cloud of debt will linger over them for a long time.

They are despairing. They want what’s best for their children so they turn to the people in their parish for help. They pray and put it into God’s hands.

As I volunteered to handle the helpline for our local Society of St. Vincent de Paul this month, I didn’t realize how each call, each story, would affect me spiritually. Truth be told, I was a bit nervous and I wasn’t sure how I would handle it. Each call for help was unique. Each case was heartbreaking, yet inspiring at the same time. Each story was another chance to learn more about Jesus and how to see Him in every person we meet.

The disabled veteran wept openly when he found out we could (and would) be helping him. With a wife and two small children, he was under unsurmountable stress to provide for them and with the help of another agency we were able to stop the eviction process, pay his rent and utilities, and give him the hand up he so desperately needed. He thanked me for helping them, and I thanked God for allowing us to serve this family in their time of need.

The single mother couldn’t believe her ears when she found out that a local eyecare business would be providing glasses to both of her sons at no charge, but she was completely stunned when she found out we would also be helping her with the bill for her cataract surgery. She was praying we could help her sons become more independent with better eyesight. Through the grace of God we were able to do the same for her. God doesn’t see the way we do. In fact, we see just a small part of His great design, but God sees into each of our hearts. Only He knows our true potential, and He helped us offer this family the gift of sight and an opportunity to reach for their own potential and change their lives forever.

Another Beautiful MorningThe young man’s mother was relieved when we spoke to her about her family’s situation. Just having someone who will listen can relieve so much stress for those in need. We arranged for her son to get a pair of glasses from the same eyecare business that helped in the previous case and we helped the family pay a good portion of the debt that had been clouding their future. That night a mother went home with a light in her eye, and a renewed hope for her family. I went home with joy in my heart, and a renewed desire to know our Lord better through the faces of those we serve.

St Vincent de Paul once said, “You must see God in the faces of the poor.”

Words really cannot express what I feel when I help someone through the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Sometimes their need is small, sometimes they need more than we can offer, but I truly can see the face of Christ in every person I meet, and it’s a humbling experience each and every time. I thank God for the opportunity to serve Him and pray I never lose this feeling of humility.

What would you do if you could fundamentally change someone’s life?