February is the month of love. Valentine’s Day is an official opportunity to express appreciation for our loved ones. In truth, we try our best to do that every month. The National Alliance to End Homelessness wants to express our love to you, our incredible field partners.
Lao Tzu famously said that “being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” Love, in this context, can mean many things such as self-adoration, romance, or kinship. But I think it’s also important to focus on other types of love: love built through the power and strength of serving communities.
Agape: Loving Selflessly
One of the most beautiful types of endearment is that of agape, selfless love. Throughout my career, I have seen that love given day in and day out by service providers. You dedicate 40 plus hours a week uplifting and empowering your most vulnerable community members. You sacrifice meals, bathroom breaks, and other personal time to ensure that your clients get their needs met. You do not complain.
You do not give up.
Every day you see the hardships and trauma they are suffering. You are always right there beside your clients, either literally or figuratively. You constantly think to yourself that if your client was your wife, mother, daughter, niece, or sister, you would want someone looking out for her as you do.
This is what drives you to get up each day and face the unknown. You don’t know if you will get cussed out, praised, or appreciated today. You don’t know if someone will knock on your door with good news or bad news. You do not know if your 76-year-old Vietnam veteran client made it through the cold winter night – the one who sleeps steps from the office building.
You do know that you despise the unnecessary anguish of your fellow neighbors. You dedicate an enormous amount of time, energy, and talent to alleviate the dreariness of people experiencing homelessness because you care. Your love for others is expressed through such compassion and concern.
The Courage to Love
It takes courage to love, since that involves trust. Your clients must trust that you have their best interests at heart. After all, they tell you confidential personal information all the time. You must trust that they, too, have their best interests at heart; after all, you offer advice, but not commands. Once trust is established, you provide strength to those who are ignored in society through your optimism and compassion. You give them hope. And often times, you are their ray of light in the darkness.
During a month where gratitude and love abounds, the Alliance recognizes all of the hard work and love that service providers put into their work every single day. I – and we – can’t thank you enough for your selflessness. We are honored to have such amazing friends and partners as you. We love you all so much!
“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” – Maya Angelou