To highlight the service component of the Nonprofit Leadership Program (positions are currently available), the next several Franciscan Fridays will feature reflections from program associates about their experiences with weekly direct service. Today’s post is by development associate Sarah Hoffeditz

    During the recent heavy rains in Washington, I came home from my service at Miriam’s Kitchen one day to find that Casa San Salvador (where the associates live in community with other lay Catholics) basement was flooding. With the help of neighbors and fellow community members, I spent the next seven hours keeping the water at bay via towels and wet vacs.

    It was grueling work, and seemed never-ending. It was definitely not how I’d planned to spend my night. Normally, I probably would have been very frustrated, stressed, and annoyed by this turn of events. But that wasn’t how I felt.

    I felt grateful.

    Sarah and a guest at Miriam’s Studio, working on his art

    Earlier that afternoon, a woman at Miriam’s asked if I would be her friend because she said that she really needed friends. Then she burst into tears and told me that she had been homeless in DC for the past two years, and she was exhausted.

    She’d tried to get into a shelter the night before (a night when it rained almost non-stop), but all the beds were full. Because she has disabilities that make getting around difficult, she wasn’t able to make it to another shelter that night.

    She tried to set up her tarp and blankets like a sleeping bag, even taking the time to stitch them all together so she could slip inside, thinking this would keep her dry as she slept on the street.

    In the middle of the night, she woke up sopping wet. Her tarp wasn’t waterproof after all.

    First Lady Michelle Obama at Miriam’s Kitchen

    After we talked for a while, I promised this kind woman my friendship. She smiled and thanked me for listening. I was sitting there amazingly humbled and moved by her story, and she thanked me.

    That night, while wringing out countless towels and sucking up more gallons of water than I could count, instead of thinking how horrible my night was, I thought about the roof over my head, the dry bed I had upstairs, and the friends and neighbors helping me with this task. I thought about my new friend from Miriam’s.

    And I felt grateful.

    I don’t know if I affect the lives of the people I work with at Miriam’s beyond the two hours I spend with them each week, though I hope I do. But I do know that they have changed my life in so many ways.

    They have humbled and inspired me. They’ve adjusted my perspective on life.

    Each week, as God shines through their smiles, I feel overwhelmingly grateful to them for all the gifts they’ve given me. I hope that one day I’ll be able to return the favor.

    Sarah Hoffeditz is a development associate serving Franciscan Mission Service through the Nonprofit Leadership Program. She graduated from Bellarmine University with a degree in Communication and a minor in English in 2012. She has volunteered at Miriam’s Kitchen since March 2013.