During the past week, I have been inspired and surprised by some of the generous and kind actions of the guests at André House. In this article, I want to share a few ways that our guests have gone out of their way to show their appreciation for everything that André House’s staff and volunteers do for them. With temperatures now consistently above 100°F, André House is always in need of bottled water to distribute during meal service. During one of my shifts at the Porter Station, a generous donor arrived with a full pallet of bottled water. We unfortunately were unable to use the loading dock and a pallet jack to unload the water and instead had to move it into André House using a few hand carts. Our guests immediately sprang into action to help unload the bottles of water from the pallet onto our carts. They also helped us push these carts loaded with hundreds of pounds of water up the ramp so that they could be unloaded and stored the basement. Their generous spirit and willing hands helped accomplish this potentially daunting task in 10 minutes. One of the guests who assisted with this effort said that he offered his help as a way of saying thank you to André House.
After we are done distributing over 500 meals to our guests at dinner time, the staff at André House then performs an all hands-on deck cleaning of the building and parking lot so that we are all ready to hit the ground running the following day. One of these tasks involves cleaning the restrooms that are available for guests to use. Towards the end of our time at André House, I noticed that there was much less clutter to sweep up in the men’s restroom than there used to be. After a couple days of this happening, I mentioned this to one of my fellow Holy Cross religious to see if he also noticed a difference. He commented that he also had noticed and that he saw one of our guests going through the restroom and picking up trash before departing for the evening. Again, the guest wanted to show his appreciation and gratitude to André House by doing what he could to contribute.
I can think of several other times where guests have done little things like this to help and show their appreciation at André House. These actions have not only helped motivate me to continue serving our guests to the best of my ability, but they have also been learning opportunities. I can sometimes question whether a small action can make much difference or have much of an effect on the larger picture. Gestures like the ones I mentioned confirmed that our efforts at André House do make a difference because I was so grateful to have a little less work to do on a long and hot day. But more importantly, the thoughtful actions of these guests made me feel appreciated, cared for and valued. I can only hope that the little things we do each day at André House can help our guests feel that they too are appreciated, cared for and loved. This whole experience reminded me of a line from our Holy Cross Constitutions “We find that we ourselves stand to learn much from those whom we are called to teach.” I hope that I can learn from the guests at André House that even the smallest acts can have noticeable impacts.
Ed Dolphin, C.S.C., is in his first year as a professed seminarian with the Congregation of Holy Cross, U.S. Province of Priests and Brothers. He is from Wilmington, Delaware, and is placed at Holy Cross Novitiate until the fall. Before discerning with Holy Cross, he attended Drexel University where he majored in Information Systems.