What made you decide to serve not just one, but two days a week at the Real Life Center?
Howell: I never thought about the number of days. We just wanted to join in. I wanted to work directly with the people being served and the food pantries seemed the quickest place to begin. When I had the chance to become an assessment (intake) counselor I was eager to represent God’s love and hope for people at that vulnerable point in their lives. But we did not want to give up the relationships being formed through the food pantries. So, two days.
Can you recall any specific interaction you have had with someone you were serving that has impacted you?
Lois Ann: I remember a woman who walked very slowly and obviously did not feel very well. She told me that she was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. She further told me that before they found out about Real Life Center the family had gone a week without getting any food! She said RLC was such a blessing for them. I have seen her several times since then and she is looking so much better. That story pierced my heart because we like to think that surely in America people don’t really go hungry—especially if they are cancer patients.
Howell: Many. I expect to be impacted every day I serve. I am impacted by the humility and gratitude shown. I am touched by people who are selfless in their caring for others and who trust God though very difficult situations. Nearly every person has needs that we pray for. And some even pray for me.
What do you think makes the Real Life Center unique?
Lois Ann: I appreciate the way the model, the ideas, the ideals of the Real Life Center are reinforced by all the staff consistently and frequently. When we gather in the mornings to pray, it is said in several voices — “bless the people who come here” or “let us be a blessing”. We are constantly reminded that’s what we are here for. It is not enough just to do your job. I think that is one of the things that keeps the focus on what it should be. Cathy really sets the tone and that tone is echoed by everyone. I also think that prayer is a really important piece of what we do. It helps people realize that we really do genuinely care. We are not just here to offer financial assistance. I also think our community rallies around our mission so wonderfully because they resonate with the idea that every person deserves dignity.
What does it mean to you to serve together as a couple and for how long have you done so?
Lois Ann: We’ve served together all our married life. In college we served as the adult sponsors for junior high church group. We do most everything together. I guess we just enjoy each other’s company! Besides, we both really believe in what the Real Life Center does so it makes sense that we both want to volunteer here.
Thank you, Lois Ann and Howell for your service!