The privilege of helping the homeless

Robin Minick writes about volunteering with MDHA

By Robin Minick

Editor’s note: Recently, guest blogger Joli Angel Robinson posted about the work of Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance to combat the homeless issue in Dallas and Collin counties. This week, Wright Connatser attorney Robin Minick writes about her experience volunteering with MDHA. She also serves on its board of directors.

I had the privilege of volunteering with Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance at Oak Lawn United Methodist Church to operate an inclement weather shelter on March 11, 2022 (a winter weather advisory was in effect). While I have been to shelters, I had not seen an inclement weather shelter in operation before then.

I arrived at 4:30 p.m. and people were already there, both volunteers and those seeking shelter. Coffee was made and food was on the way. Computers were up and running and blankets and warm clothes were ready to be shared. Rooms of cots were waiting for occupants. A system was in place to do rapid Covid-19 tests, find or enter shelter seekers into the database, and assign them to a bed for the night. Other volunteers were there to help with mental health and other issues that might arise as our unhoused neighbors came in from the cold. When the church reached capacity, transportation showed up to take those in need to another shelter.

While the efficiency and preparedness was impressive, what struck me most was the kindness and the joy. I know joy sounds like a strange word for the situation. But the joy radiating from the staff and volunteers was palpable. The situation is hard. Those seeking shelter have a myriad of circumstances, illnesses, pets, belongings, attitudes, frustrations, and everything you can imagine. Yet they were greeted and approached with love and care and patience and understanding. And joy. Joy about serving someone in need. Joy about working together to meet those needs and the possibility of real systemic change.

We all have issues. But most of us can go home and put on comfortable clothes and get what we need in a place we feel safe. I urge you to support agencies such as MDHA that are working toward systemic change. Educate yourself on the underlying reasons people experience homelessness. There are solutions to housing those without a home. We can make it happen.

Robin can be reached at robin@wrightconnatser.com.