A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, July 11, 2014
A Helping Hand, at Good News Partners
I remembered something today. Something I haven’t thought of for a number of months. I remembered offering some piano lessons to several children, at reduced cost. These were not my usual piano students. No, these were children who lived at the Jonquil Hotel, a single-room residency building that is part of Good News Partners, a ministry that tries to make God’s love and caring tangible in the lives of those they serve. Good News Partners is located in the North of Howard section of the Rogers Park neighborhood, in Chicago just a few blocks from Lake Michigan. The other housing options of GNP make up a unique housing continuum, with a shelter, rental housing, and cooperative housing.
I traveled only a few miles, and crossed the border into Chicago. I transitioned into a neighborhood where I made sure to lock the car doors and be certain that nothing of value was visible from the exterior of the car. Just in case. Right near the Howard Street El station.
The families I worked with, for a brief time, were in transition from homelessness (or the verge of homelessness). The Jonquil Hotel was—and is—a caring, nurturing residence to build community and confidence among the individuals and families living there. The piano lessons only lasted a few months. I wish I had been able to assist some young people in learning to play the piano. But, I realize the tenuous situation many of the families are in. I understand—a little—what it is like for them to have fear, anxiety and worry as near constant companions. I can relate, because my former husband and I were in a similar situation when my oldest two children were small, before they entered school. No firm or continuous employment for either of us, for many, many months. But that’s a topic for another post.
I offered the children what I could—piano lessons. And, I was a kind, friendly face and voice that came once a week. Yes, I assisted with piano instruction. However, I also encouraged the children in other ways. I would always ask what they were learning in school. I tried to engage them in conversation about things they might be interested in. I used my friendly smile and my less-anxious presence (so valuable in the health care setting!) here, too. I never asked, but I do hope it made a difference in the lives of these children and their parents. God willing, it did.
This situation several years ago with Good News Partners came to mind because I’ve met another family recently. Not as dire a situation, but I was asked whether I could teach piano, again. Of course I can. And, I will. I hope and pray I can be useful in this situation. I hope and pray that God goes before me in helping this dear family, too.
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