Making Connections

by Greta Cooper Young


Since the pandemic, Calvary’s Clothes Closet and Sunday morning Community Breakfast have been able to keep operating while other groups have closed services like these. Calvary volunteers wear masks and distance themselves by standing behind tables.


The pants table is usually run by Claudia. Claudia is a force of nature. She shows up consistently and hands out pants saying things like, “these run small, so we will go up a size.” Being one of the newer members, I just assumed she was a lifelong Calvary member. I recently found out she is not. I then started looking at other volunteers that I thought must be members, but it turns out they weren’t.


Sam, another incredible force, wears so many hats on Sunday, but he always makes sure he gets the parking lot clean as our guests discard tags. Who knows what else he does after I leave. This superman is an attorney by day; I hear one of the best. So as I am getting to know the guests who come, I am also getting to know the volunteers. There are more stories about our incredible volunteers, but I want to tell you about the guests and who they are.


Winchester is a guy with thick auburn hair. His face is sunburned most days in the summer and red from cold in the winter. He is quiet and grateful most of the time and seems to know how to survive in all of this. One day I saw him sitting on a curb. I greeted him and told him my name, and he told me his. I said Winchester was a great name, and he continued by telling me he had been in three wars. He said it as if to let me know that he was not here by choice. He said it with pride in his voice.


Another guest, Olivia, has a motorized wheelchair. She usually gives me a hard time, but not in a mean way. Her actions seem to say, “don’t forget who the guest is here.” Making connections can be challenging for newcomers, but she taught me the most important lessons on being present on Sunday mornings: just be real and don’t instruct too much. I knew Olivia had lost a cousin to Covid because I overheard a phone call she made to her family. When we had a moment at the table one Sunday, I asked her, “how’s your family?” She told me about her cousin. I offered condolences and told her I had just lost my Mom on Nov. 23. She asked, “a couple of years ago?” No. She looked me right in the eyes for what I think was the first time. “But this is Jan. 2” “Exactly,” I replied. It was a moment I will remember. She saw me differently.


You don’t have to make a major commitment to help our guests. Once a month would be a godsend to those who show up regularly. As I drive away from Calvary on Sunday mornings, I remember, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’


Sign up to volunteer on Sunday mornings here. There are so many different ways for you to be involved.