In Honor Of Nurse Jane

Time heals all wounds...

Of all the people I’ve met doing this work, I’d like to write about one of the most inspirational human beings out there, my friend Jane Smith.

Back in the first few months of interning with Love Wins in the hospitality house, I always wondered who this “Jane” was, because everyone was asking for her all the time. Once I finally met her, I knew I needed to get to know her better, find out how she got to where she is today, and ask for words of advice in this work. And boy, has she helped me!

She has listened to me vent, discussed situations with some of our community members, and helped me process the different stories I’ve heard – and the support I’ve received from Jane isn’t even a hair of what our community has received from her. Jane is devoted to her community and is committed to helping in whatever way she can.

Nurse Jane is an R.N. engagement nurse employed through Southlight Healthcare. She’ll stop whatever she’s doing to help someone and will bend over backwards to open doors for her patients. Just as I used to ask who Nurse Jane was, we also hear all day people asking for “Ms. Jane.” Some people need help with prescriptions, some need rides to the hospital, some need help with stomach problems, or some people simply need band-aids.

Not only do people come in to see her when they need something, but they come in to just see her. They know that talking to Jane will calm their worries, soothe their pain, and brighten up their day. Jane is a role model in Wake County and one who deserves an award daily.

I wanted to give our friends some time to also speak about Jane.

“She is sweet and very kind.” – Rodger

“She is outgoing and travels a lot meeting people.” – Christian

“She helped me get my medication.” – Ken

“She tries to help everybody.” – Ronald

“She really helped me get my stuff ready to go to Job Corp.”- Michael

“She has helped me do everything I have needed to do. She is a great person.” – David

“She has helped me a lot. She is a great lady.” – Laura

“If more people were like her, this world would be a better place.” – Rachel

Many people know her, love her, and wouldn’t be where they are today without her.

Jean Vanier said, “Many people are good at talking about what they are doing, but in fact do little. Others do a lot but don’t talk about it; they are the ones who make a community live.”

Related: In Honor Of Officer Wendy

In Honor Of Officer Wendy

Officer Wendy
Officer Wendy Clark chatting with Oscar at our July 4 picnic.

My time at Love Wins has been incredible. I’ve met hundreds of people who have inspired me, mentored me, and believed in me. In my last few Love Wins blog posts I want to share a little bit about two people who have helped me become a better friend and colleague.

I know there are plenty of kind and compassionate officers in this world, but I also know there’s no one else like Raleigh Police Department Senior Officer Wendy Clark.

She’s more than an officer. She advocates for our friends who sleep outside, supports our friends who are incarcerated, guides our friends who get in trouble every now and then, and fights the social injustices in our broken system. She stands up for any person who is mistreated, gives second and third chances to people who have no more chances left, is a motivator for broken communities, and does everything in her power to defend people who are marginalized.

I could talk all day about Wendy Clark, but here’s what my friends have to say about her as well.

“She is a real hero.” – Carlos

“She pushes for people to get better in life.” – Michael

“She is so nice” -Jessica

“I want to get to know her better.” – Trey

“She is a good officer.” – Fraidoon

“She has a heart more than any other officer.” – Scott

“She helps all people.” – Keron

“She has a great smile.” – Tori

“She is good with people. She has everyone’s back.” – Fenton

The world needs more people doing the work Wendy Clark is doing. And it isn’t just the work she’s doing, but with the heart that she’s doing it with.

I know I’m a better person because of Wendy Clark.

I’ll leave you all with a quote by Jane Goodall, “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

A Farewell Message From Maggie

Goodbyes

This may be the hardest blog post I’ve written at Love Wins.

We tell everyone who comes through our hospitality house to make Love Wins your home, so that’s what I’ve done for the last four years. And let me tell you – it’s best home I’ve ever had.

But as with any home, there’s a time to move on.

Love Wins has played a crucial role in my development as a young adult, from my college days to now two years post-college. College was a strange time for me. I was always running, searching for what made me happy, what I wanted to do in life, and what I wanted to see happen in the world. I was fortunate enough to study abroad and make incredible friends in campus ministry at NC State. It was only until I found Love Wins, however, that I felt truly fulfilled.

I met Hugh at Presbyterian Campus Ministry, where he and I became great friends over many cups of coffee. I found answers to questions I always had. I found the ability to shape the ideas I wanted to see happen in this world, and finally do something about it. I joined the Love Wins hospitality house community as soon as the first building opened on Jones St. I would go to class early in the morning, run to the hospitality house in the afternoon, and then go back to class. I was at the building at least three days a week. Finally, I forced Hugh to hire me by threatening to leave the country (he may tell you a different story), and before long I was on staff!

Three years later, Love Wins has changed my life. I’ve been fortunate to be among some of the brightest and most loving people in Raleigh, to participate in the lives of many amazing people, and to have felt more love than any 24-year-old can imagine. I’ve seen babies being born, walked with people on their journeys of incarceration, moved 10 or more people into their new apartments, and sat with people each day to hear stories about their lives. I could write pages and pages (maybe a book one day) about the incredible people I’ve met and am now lucky enough to be their friend.

My last day at Love Wins will be March 6. I’m excited of what’s to come, but sad to leave what I know and love. Despite my sadness, I’m excited for someone else to experience the community of Love Wins.

I want to thank each and every person I’ve met and who has helped me develop as a person, a coworker, and a friend. I’ll never forget my home at Love Wins. I may be doing something different, but the relationships I’ve made will not go away.

Like I’ve always said, community doesn’t stop just because you move.

P.S. Click here to read the posting for my position (Operations Manager) on our Job Openings page.

Community Doesn’t Stop

Moving Crew
Our December 27 moving crew.

As most of you know, we just relocated our hospitality house, chapel, and offices to the other side of downtown Raleigh.

Moving and change are both good things. But change is hard, especially in the beginning.

Not that moving is any easier – all through the whirlwind month of December we were packing, moving, unpacking, packing, moving, donating, and packing some more. Just thinking about all the stuff we had to either move or get rid of was stressful. Each day came and went, my mind preoccupied and overloaded with a to-do list of what felt like 100 items.

At the end of our last big move day, December 27, the old hospitality house was bare. Four days later, when we locked the doors on Jones St. for the very last time, every chair, glove, and peanut butter jar was gone. Reality sunk in – we wouldn’t be the same Love Wins Ministries we were on Jones St., and we wouldn’t be open for two weeks.

I started volunteering with Love Wins as soon as the open sign switched over at the Jones St. hospitality house door three years ago. I remember the faces of the first few people I ever saw come through, and I remember the days Hugh and I twiddled our thumbs and watched the clock tick, waiting for someone to come in to talk to us.

Writing this now, three years later, I don’t remember the last time I sat down for longer than five minutes without talking to half a dozen people.

At our new location in the former education wing of Trinity UMC, we’ve been closed since the New Year to paint, organize, unpack, and prepare as much as we can for our re-opening this Thursday. I miss talking to Danny in the mornings. And I miss watching Ms. Belinda aggressively scrub a pot of stew that a volunteer provided. I miss playing with baby C.J.

Above all, I miss my community. After all the stress I felt last month, I hoped these last two weeks would be a chance to unwind and catch my breath. What I’ve realized, however, is that community doesn’t stop when we’re not open. The relationships we’ve formed, the friendships we’ve developed, and the love we share and and receive don’t all go away.

This change will be good for our community. It may take time for Danny to come in and give me the update on his house, for Ms. Belinda to have pots to wash, and for C.J. to crawl around in the new nursery.

But I’ll be here with open arms to welcome them back. We may have changed our location, but we certainly didn’t change the love we have for each person who walks through our front door.

Moving Update: We’re Almost There!

Moving Crew
Our December 20 moving crew at the new space.

Our big move is almost complete! We spent the last two Saturdays packing boxes, moving furniture, and hauling it all to our new location. Thank you to all our awesome volunteers who took time out of their holiday weekends to help us transition our offices, hospitality house, and chapel to our new space at Trinity United Methodist Church.

Here are some photo highlights of the moving action. If you’d like to help us unpack and organize at the new location this Saturday, January 3, please click here.

We look forward to seeing you on Bloodworth Street next year!

P.S. Stay in the loop on future open house dates by signing up for our newsletter.


Thank you for helping us to provide hospitality to vulnerable people. After all, there’s no place like home. Share the love of home by visiting our Holiday Market.

A Eulogy For Mike

Alone

I expected the worst when my friend Wendy called and first asked if I was sitting in a quiet place and had time to hear some hard news.

“Mike was found in August of this year in a ditch off New Bern Avenue, dead.”

We hadn’t seen Mike since July and knew something was wrong. He would come by the hospitality house and chapel service for a few months at a time when he was sober – when he wanted to be closer to God, he said.

Then he’d be gone for another few months, using drugs and sleeping wherever he could. Despite his history, he’d never disappeared for more than three months without at least calling or writing. His case worker had stopped by a few times looking for him – I knew something was wrong neither of us had seen him.

For decades Mike searched for home, a place to feel comfort and love. Sometimes Love Wins was that home for him. During those bouts of sobriety he visited every day to enjoy coffee with friends, and on weekends he attended chapel with his friend Bill. He cared for many members of our community, just as much as we loved him.

Other times Mike found home in his addiction. His infant daughter died last year, and the grief pulled him back into huffing and self-loathing.

In happier times he found home in his faith. He constantly reminded me that God loves me, and he would bring his grandmother’s Bible and read verses from it to friends in need.

Not every story has a happy ending, unfortunately.

After all these years, I hope he finally found his home.

Mike’s grandmother’s Bible, which he gave to Hugh for safekeeping last year.

Thank you for helping us to provide hospitality to vulnerable people. After all, there’s no place like home. Share the love of home by visiting our Holiday Market.

Home Is A Feeling

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Randy’s boss considers him a part of the family, which is why after years of sleeping outside and spending holidays alone, Randy now views his boss’s house as his own home. He can’t imagine spending a Thanksgiving anywhere else.

So when Randy presented me with the tempting offer to eat Thanksgiving with him at his boss’s house, I was honored, but I had to decline because I already had plans to spend the day at home with my family.

Then I started wondering what other friends were doing for Thanksgiving, and if they were going home at all.

Bobby had invitations to eat with other people but he wanted to be at home. Home for him was staying in his tent and reading a new book.

Cathy was cooking with friends and enjoying Thanksgiving at her new home with her daughter and wife.

Sammy and Joe were spending the day alone because home for them is simply being together.

Carl was going to his sister’s house, a place where he retreats to when he needs his home.

I was going home to my mom’s house to enjoy a cozy fire, lots of food, and extended family visiting from all over.

After I thought about what all my friends were doing on Thanksgiving, I realized we all just wanted to be home — and home can be different for all of us.

I grew up thinking that everyone needed a home like my mom’s house. I longed for everyone to have that same experience.

But home is a feeling. Home is where you can feel loved, accepted, and acknowledged. Home is where we feel we belong.

Randy feels he belongs at his boss’s house. I feel I belong at my mom’s house. Our communities show us who we are and welcome us to be a part of something bigger, however that home may look. And that’s all that matters.

As Maya Angelou once said, “I long as every human being does, to be at home wherever I find myself.”


Thank you for helping us to provide hospitality to vulnerable people. After all, there’s no place like home. Share the love of home by visiting our Holiday Market.

Celebrate Thanksgiving With Our Community!

Pumpkin Pie Love - Overachiever's Pumpkin Pie

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, partly because there’s nothing better than sweet potato casserole. All year long I dream about the taste of those smooth, mashed sweet potatoes, the layer of melted butter, and the heaping pile of marshmallows on top.

But the real reason I look forward to Thanksgiving is the opportunity to gather with my friends and family. Everyone meets at my mom’s house, the place I call home. We spend the day reminiscing, catching up, and laughing about what the future may hold. It’s a time to be thankful for the family we have, in the comfort of the home we’re fortunate enough to be in.

And at the same time, I’m well aware not everyone’s Thanksgiving looks like mine. The majority of our hospitality house guests will be alone on Thanksgiving. Sure, various groups might serve sweet potato casserole, turkey, and stuffing, which everyone is thankful for, but there’s no place like home during the holidays.

Robert won’t feel the love of his beautiful family around a dinner table. Andrew won’t feel known and truly welcomed.

But the hospitality house, we’re a family. We spend time together, we catch up on life’s stories, and we talk about our hopes and dreams. Similar to my family spending Thanksgiving together, laughing and joking over a big meal, Love Wins is going to have one too. Because that’s what families do.

As a community, on Wednesday, November 26 at 11 a.m. we’ll gather together over a delicious Thanksgiving meal. You’re a part of our community too, and we would love for you to join us. We’re tremendously thankful for all you’ve done for and with Love Wins. Whether you donate, read our blogs posts, or volunteer the hospitality house, our community appreciates your support.

Don’t feel obligated to cook anything, but if you’re a star baker or a stuffing connoisseur, feel free to come with a dish and serving spoon.

We’re still in need of:

• Drinks (lemonade, sodas, teas) for 60
• Ice for 60
• Side dishes for 60
• Paper towels or napkins for 60
• Cups for 60
• Ham/turkey for 60
• Desserts for 60

If you’d like to attend and/or bring something, please email me (m.kane@lovewinsministries.org).

I hope y’all are able to attend. If not, I hope Thanksgiving is a joyful holiday for you, one where you feel loved and appreciated. We’re grateful for you and, I want you to know we couldn’t do this work without your support. Thank you!

 

Related: A Matter Of MinutesWhy We Have A Halloween PartyPeople Matter Because They Exist

This Is Your Time, Corbin

Craig, John, and Scott, and I were catching up from the weekend when an unfamiliar face walked through the door of the hospitality house. He looked out of place – unsure and confused.

I soon learned his name, Corbin, and that he’s 18 and new to the area. When I introduced him to the guys he immediately murmured, “Food, bathroom.” He hadn’t eaten in two days and had been up all night withdrawing from drugs.

He broke down as soon as he sat down at the table with us. Tears dissolved the dirt on his face.

“I’m a drug addict. I moved here to check out a new area. My family wants me back and they’re willing to support me and help me go to school. The condition is that I go to rehab and remain sober. I’m a kid, why don’t they understand that it is my time to do these things? Why don’t they accept that I’m gonna screw up and this is the time to do it?”

I have no experience with drugs or living on the street, so I let the guys around the table speak to Corbin.

Craig stepped in first. “This is your time. Listen to us who are all almost 50 and above in this room, we have all screwed up. It’s never going to get easier. It only gets harder the older you get. If I could go back and have my parents take care of me, I would.”

John was blunt. “This is your opportunity. You’re in denial. You must move on. I wish I had someone to kick my butt at 18 years old. At 18 years old, you know who I loved? No one, not even myself. Now I love myself, I love this community, I love helping people. You need to begin to love yourself. Loving yourself means going to rehab. Loving yourself means going back home so your family can love you.”

Corbin knew Craig and John wanted the best for him. They challenged him to think hard about what he wanted out of his life. They didn’t have to open up about their own lives, but by allowing themselves to be vulnerable they showed Corbin that he had a chance to change his life – and that he would have a community to back him up, both here and back home with his family.

Corbin was grateful for Craig and John’s wisdom, and I was too. I couldn’t be prouder of how they supported Corbin, a complete stranger at the time.

They showed me the beautiful power of community, and that what we are striving to do is actually working.

Related: The Opposite Of Homelessness Is Community

Coats For The Melindas Of The World

A little kindness goes a long way

At 8 a.m. the sun really hadn’t come out yet as I left for the Oak City Outreach Center to enjoy biscuits and coffee with my friends. I rushed to my car and cursed the chilly air, thinking that winter was already among us in Raleigh.

And although I wasn’t wearing even one coat that particular morning, I was much warmer than my friend Melinda – she had on a t-shirt on and shorts when I walked up to the Outreach Center. I quickly grabbed her and hugged her to share my body heat. She asked if I had any jackets with me or knew where she could get one.

I thought hard about where I could send her. The coat drive at The Salvation Army hadn’t started yet, Love Wins wasn’t open until Monday, and I didn’t have a coat in my car or even on me.

Before I could answer Melinda, a woman named Cindy walked over and took her jacket off her own back. She handed Melinda the jacket and told her to take it and put it in on.

Cindy was a gift to Melinda that morning, and witnessing Cindy’s generosity was a beautiful experience. Melinda was overjoyed and continually thanked Cindy for her kindness. Her physical needs were met and at the same time she felt loved, important, and cared for.

Cindy was a gift to us as well. I knew it would be a matter of days before I could attempt to find Melinda a coat. I also knew that Melinda was one of ten people who would come to Love Wins on Monday asking for a coat, and we don’t have any at the hospitality house yet. It would be a hard day if we had to turn away Melinda and many others who needed a coat, simply because we didn’t have any.

If everyone helped the way Cindy did, if everyone gave one coat to someone in need, no one would be without a coat in the winter. No one would have to be out in the cold desperately searching for a coat and freezing while doing it. The world isn’t like that, unfortunately, and sometimes sharing with a stranger can be hard to do.

But there are things we can do. We can all help people feel loved and important and human.

I challenge you to look through your closet. I challenge you to help the Melindas of the world by donating one coat or jacket. The jacket may be one that doesn’t fit anymore, it may be one that you have five versions of, or it may be one that you do wear, but you know someone who sleeps outside could use it more.

I promise your coat will end up in good hands and will provide warmth, love, comfort, and joy to our community.

As Desmond Tutu said, “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”

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  • You can drop off your coat donations at 707 West Jones Street in Raleigh between 9 a.m and 5 p.m., Monday – Thursday.
  • If you’re mailing us coats, please use: Love Wins Ministries / 707 West Jones Street / Raleigh, NC 27603
  • A particular need is men’s coats, sizes 2x and up.

Related: Folks Could Die Out There, Sex, Drugs, And Homelessness