Some days at the Hospitality Center have highs and others have lows, but there are some … read
Some days at the Hospitality Center have highs and others have lows, but there are some days that our staff will never forget. Here are some of our top three days at the Norristown Hospitality Center:
1. One of our clients named Kim got placed in a nearby shelter, but the shelter didn’t allow her to keep her insulin in their refrigerator. I kept it in the fridge here at the Center, but she didn’t have access to it over the weekend. When she came back on Monday, she wasn’t feeling well and her blood sugar was too high, so she ended up in the hospital. After she was discharged from the hospital, the shelter wouldn’t let her back in because it was after check-in hours. I called another agency, and they made one phone call to get her into another shelter where she could keep her insulin and other personal items with her. It was a good day because it usually takes a while to get people into housing, but that day it just took one phone call.
-Amalthea, Certified Peer Specialist
2. One of our clients, Brian, was living across the street under a tarp throughout the winter. He would come to the Hospitality Center for breakfast and showers with only a pullover for warmth. When a local church donated coats, he tried on an XL coat but it was too small. A few days later, when I looked through the coats a bit more closely, I found it- an XXL men’s coat. I ran to the window and yelled to him from across the street, saying I had something for him. He tried the coat on and it fit perfectly. After that, he was always wearing his coat. Brian is now housed and off the streets, but he still has his winter coat. I will never forget my excitement when I realized that this church gave us exactly what Brian needed.
-Katie, Development Coordinator
A few years ago, we had a client named Tony that would disappear for periods of time before coming back to the Hospitality Center. He had health issues and ended up in jail multiple times, so we never knew what happened to him when he was gone. One day, I saw Tony come in after months of being gone and I pointed him out to a case manager. The case manager excitedly called out, “Tony!” when she saw he was back. It was wonderful to see a reunion and know the case managers care about our clients so much.
-Laurie, Office Manager
Although our volunteer policies have changed due to COVID-19, we would like to thank all of our volunteers. We appreciate your dedication and eagerness to serve at the Norristown Hospitality Center.
During this time we would like to tell the story of Laurie, one of our mailroom volunteers:
How did you get started volunteering at NHC?
My son was a student at Norristown High School, and through school announcements, I learned about collections for the Hospitality Center. I looked up the center online and thought I’d like to do something, but wasn’t sure how I could fit in. That April (2016), the High School choir was the featured performer at the Silent Auction/Concert, so when I went to see my son perform, I realized this was the same organization! I ended up talking with Jennifer Mathews, who was the Volunteer Coordinator at the time, and the rest is history!
What do you do here?
Jen said that help was needed in the mailroom, and Betty Hartman was very kind and patient training me in how it works. It has been a perfect fit for me. I love the details and organization. I sort the incoming mail and file it for all our clients. I pride myself on knowing the names of many of our clients, and I enjoy interacting with people while distributing mail. I’m so happy people have a place to safely receive mail, which can include everything from employment and benefit checks to magazine subscriptions and coupons. For a while, before my son went away to college, he helped out one day a week, too. A side benefit, before COVID 19, was being able to hear the daily devotionals. I especially miss Deacon Dennis, but I also enjoy listening to Pastor Austin and Nancy Hicks. I can’t believe it’s been over 4 years total now.
What changes have you seen?
I’ve been very impressed that through many changes – a reorganization of the mailroom, a temporary move to St. John’s during the construction of new flooring, a new shower, new programs for clients, several staff changes, and now the many changes caused by COVID 19 – everyone works together as a team to provide service for our clients. I’ve always been happy to be involved here, and I’m a monthly financial partner, too.
What do you do when you’re not at the Hospitality Center?
I have two part-time jobs. I’ve been a church organist for 40 years, and a choir director for 30. Currently, I’m the Director of Music at Augustus Lutheran Church in Trappe, playing the organ and directing the choral and handbell choirs. The choirs are on indefinite hiatus right now due to COVID 19, but I still play the organ. My second part-time job is teaching English online to young students in China. I usually teach from about 7 am – 9 am. I’ve been very grateful to be able to do this at-home work, and I’m always finished in time to do other things for the whole day! I also play the piano for the Norristown Chorale, but that’s also on hiatus currently.
On behalf of the staff of the Norristown Hospitality Center, we would like to wish you a good summer and a happy Fourth of July! Despite the changes in our celebrations this year, the Norristown Hospitality Center had a wonderful Fourth of July weekend, complete with our fourth annual Fourth of July Barbeque.
The Fourth of July barbeque was started by one of our employees, Sidney Williams, four years ago. Despite his health issues, Sidney insisted on moving forward with a social distancing event and cooked platters of food for the celebration. Our staff also came out on Saturday to serve hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken, beans, and watermelon. As a special treat, a Mister Softee ice cream truck made an appearance and gave out free ice cream to our guests. Our client said it was “a joyous occasion for me and all of the participants here. I really enjoyed myself and it made being here really special during the COVID crisis”.
Although we had to adjust the event for health reasons, we served over 100 platters of food to our clients and those in the Norristown area. Sidney said, “I want people to know that I’m not the only one that is involved in this. I’m not just the brainchild, but there are so many other people donating.” The food for the barbeque was provided by our faithful donors and the ice cream truck was arranged by Sidney. “Thanks to all the people who donated and to all the people who volunteered. We couldn’t do it without you guys.”
Despite the quick transition from live to online, the Norristown Hospitality Center’s first Virtual Silent Auction was a triumph. The center raised over $15,000 from auction bids, raffle tickets, and financial donations. We were excited to see the highest turnout ever for our silent auction. We hope our participants enjoyed the event and making it a success. The Hospitality Center would like to express our gratitude for your support of our mission and congratulations to our auction winners!