Sunday, December 25, 2011

Last Minute Christmas at JOIN

By Colleen Sinsky

Happy Holidays JOIN friends!

This morning I saw an email from our Executive Director Marc Jolin- who’s going to be very embarrassed for me writing this. Marc, at 6:30am sounded chipper and upbeat, letting the staff and board know that JOIN would be open for families today- Christmas Day.

Because of some scheduling conflict, the space that homeless families had been planning on spending their Christmas afternoon and evening had to close- leaving them all without a warm place today. In his email, Marc welcomed the company if anyone wanted to stop by this evening- but was mostly after those leftover holiday treats so many of us have lying around so he could put them out for the kids.

What a simple, yet profound gesture; changing personal Christmas plans at the last minute to create a safe and warm place for a few homeless families. This is what service is about. This is why we do immersions, and why we choose to emphasize solidarity and relationships over statistical measures of success. This, (shamelessly quoting myself in another recent blog post) is the JOIN Way, and this is the epitome of the organization that I am so fortunate to volunteer for.

I’m saving Marc's email forever- as yet another small reminder of how truly wonderful an organization can be when soulful and selfless people are at the helm. I’m proud of JOIN for bucking some traditional social service rules and having the flexibility to do something as counter cultural yet human as suddenly
deciding to be open on Christmas.

Earlier this week I went out to East County to deliver some Holiday food boxes donated by our friends at TAZO. I visited one of our families who was homeless until last month. Knowing where they came from, it's impossible for me to get into words how happy it makes me to get to see them with their Christmas tree and presents. And when I'm trying to not break into "proud-of-you" tears in front of the kids.. sometimes it's easier to make this face when they're playing with my camera in their living room:

(this is me.)

So thanks for reading and Happy Holidays to all of our friends and supporters wherever you are. This season, hug your family extra tight and tell those you love that you do. We're all in this wonderful chaos together.

In loving memory of Jessica Chyrek.

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