On December 25 people around the world will celebrate Christmas. Many people of the Christian faith will go to cathedrals and chapels to reflect on the birth of Jesus and celebrate “God with us.” It’s portrayed to be a peace-filled and joy-filled time we share with family and friends. Sometimes,though, when we’re facing tough times alone and the future seems bleak, we can wonder: Is God really with me? Does anyone really care?
When we’ve hit rock bottom and don’t see the path forward, we need to encounter someone who truly knows us and cares about us. For many of ANEW’s guests, one of our evening volunteers, Jill Vespa, is that someone. Every Wednesday evening she comes to ANEW after a busy day as a realtor for what guests refer to as "game night." Over dinner and games of cards, Jill listens to their stories and shares some of her own. In her free time, she advocates for guests looking for jobs and apartments, often checking in to see how they're doing. She’s there to celebrate their highs and encourage during their lows. Many times after someone is facing discouragement or has messed up (again), they will come to Jill simply because they know she cares. Jill is a picture to our guests of what author Timothy Keller describes:
To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known but not loved isour greatest fear. To be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self righteousness. It fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.
Jill’s persistent presence is a reminder: God is with them. God is for them. Their story is not over. This Christmas, whether you’ve delivered a meal, made a donation, or taken time for a conversation, thank you for showing our guests they matter, they are not alone, and their story is not over.
On behalf of our staff, board, volunteers, and guests, we hope you enjoy a joy-filled Christmas and holiday season!