MAMA T’S IN THE TIME OF COVID-19
Autumn has always been as much a state of mind as it is a season. The thermometer reveals daytime-heat, yet the occasional cool evenings and the few bronze and gold leaves crunching underfoot not so silently announce that we should be observant, that we should slow down and watch autumn as she unfolds. A multitude of leaves will soon change colors and quietly race each other to the ground. It is the time of year when the soul sighs and relaxes, taking time to reflect on the past and anticipate the future.
Autumn 2020, however, is a strange time indeed for everyone but particularly for the homeless and those who are trying to help them. We cannot sigh and relax; we are forced to navigate a pandemic. If Mama T’s were simply a warehouse providing beds, food and showers, it might not be so difficult, but here in small town, Ada, Oklahoma, we are so much more. Our most sought after product is hope, and that, ladies and gentlemen, does not come cheap.
Once we have provided guests with the basic needs of everyday life, our aim is to help them leave us for a life of productivity and independence. They cannot do that without hope. To that end, staff meets with each guest individually, determining what they need to do to work their way out of the situation they are in. A “Plan for Independence” is drafted for, and with, each adult guest’s input. This plan takes into account the guest’s strengths and weaknesses; what brought them to the place they are in now and what they need to do to start a new life where they can strive to reach new goals - for themselves and for their families. The plan includes referrals for in- or out-patient counseling, if needed; employment (what skills does the guest possess, what new skills can they learn and where can those skills best be put to use?); they are assisted in their search for employment, then required to open savings accounts and show regular deposits. From deposited funds they will pay past due child support; pay off existing warrants and save for a place to live. Plans are reviewed with the guests periodically to determine whether deadlines are being met, whether the plan might need to be amended and whether the participant is making a good effort. Our guests know that we care; that we are there to celebrate them in their victories and to give them a shoulder on which to lean when the road to a new life becomes bumpy and difficult to navigate.
How do you assign a value to hope and all its components? How do you assign a value not only to the change we bring into the lives of our guests but to the good that eradicating homelessness from the streets of Ada does for the City? When prospective new residents and/or businesses look at Ada to determine whether they want to move here, it helps if they see that homelessness and a desire to solve the problem are in the minds of our citizens and city government…that our homeless shelter is beautiful and aesthetically elevates the neighborhood that surrounds it.
There are rewards for all of us. Our rewards are the success stories of those who don’t need us any more – who leave the shelter for a productive, independent new life… the woman who lost her children; who worked hard to beat the addiction that brought her to us; who now has her children back and lives in a home she sustains on her own. A young man with no family, undergoing chemotherapy who was assisted in every way by staff and fellow guests during his time of treatment when he was unable to work and support himself…who is now in remission, employed, with a place and car of his own. Their successes and our rewards carry a price.
It is difficult to assign a dollar amount to the services that we provide at Mama T’s, but it has to be done. Picture us as a home with numerous family members or a business with many employees, and then realize that we are both. We are home to guests, temporary family members who need to be housed, cared for and fed and like a business, we have to pay employees, payroll taxes, and carry insurance. The home and business aspects may be different, but both entail expenses that like the tip of an iceberg increase in size as you look below what is apparent on the surface.
We may want to press the fast-forward button through the financial pain of this pandemic, and propel ourselves into a financially secure future and out of our current circumstances but in doing so we would miss out on an important lesson.
That lesson is that we cannot rely on government to fix all the problems in our country. We must bite the bullet so to speak and help each other. It is our collective compassion that has made us so great and so free. When peoples of all colors and creeds can come together to assist neighbors of all colors and creeds the result is love rather than hate, and love is one of our surest defenses against social unrest.
With great disappointment, we have had to postpone or cancel many of our fundraising events. While we will move some events online, the revenue will simply not be the same, and it will likely be this way for a long time.
The generosity of our supporters continues to amaze me. Donors like you make a true sacrifice that is deeply appreciated. There are many good causes out there but eliminating homelessness is the ethical thing to do. It is not just a matter of emergency shelter and food, but as Lao Tzu, the Chinese philosopher of long ago said (I’m paraphrasing here), “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Mama T’s tries to do both.
We are writing today, not just to add to our blog, but to respectfully request that you join with Mama T’s to create a life changing partnership by donating $1,000 or more, (or less) to become a Benefactor as your circumstances permit. Your dedication to our life changing mission is the kind of devotion that will help us bring about positive, permanent change in the lives of our guests. It is the kind of change that brings many guests back wanting to pass forward what has been done for them.
All donors of $1,000 or more will be recognized on Mama T’s website and our social media platforms. We appreciate that you personally, or your organization, may also have been forced to make adjustments to your operations. No amount is too large or too small, and all donors will be recognized on Mama T’s social media.
While we face an autumn unlike any other, with your generosity we will continue to provide the hope and the means to move our guests to the changes this season brings to their lives, teach them to prepare for and weather the winter that follows and see them into the new possibilities of spring.
You may make checks payable to Mama T’s, Inc. We are a 501 (c)(3) organization, and your donations are tax deductible. You may mail your checks to Mama T’s, P. O Box 1524, Ada, Ok 74821 or you may go to our website and contribute through PayPal. If you happen to be in town, you may bring your check by my office at 201 W. 14th Street. I can even come by your home or office to pick up a check.
Bread & Blessings