Our last blog by one of our Administrative Assistants, Megan Holmes, reminded me of a situation that occurred several years ago that took place right in our office waiting room. Our four sayings that line the wall in our hallway always remind me of it too. It has to do with the third frame that reads, “Don’t underestimate your impact on others.”
I was going through the gobs of paperwork sitting on my desk when our receptionist in the front of our office called me. “There’s a woman up here that wants to talk to you. Can you come up here to see her?”
Normally, Shirley screens out the salespeople who are stopping in to ‘hawk’ what they do, so I knew it wouldn’t be a situation like that. Usually, she handles the people who are looking for directions to somewhere else. The rest of the walk-ins are someone looking for help or assistance but we aren’t really sure what’s happening until we talk with them. I was so glad to take a break from all that stuff on my desk and I took the long walk up to the front of our office.
I introduced myself to a woman probably in her late twenties, early thirties who avoided eye contact with me immediately. She was focused on opening her purse and began to pull out bills and handed them over to me. These were not invoices, but bills as in dollar bills. She was a bit frantic at first but gradually slowed down and the bills kept coming.
I admit I was taken aback and simply stood there while she continued to fill my hand full of money. There were different denominations, nothing more than a ten dollar bill and mostly fives and ones.
I asked her what her name was and if I could help her, but she just kept her head down and continued to give me money. This doesn’t happen to me much at home, so I kept my mouth shut and let it keep piling up in my hand.
The last item she pulled out was a roll of dimes and she finally looked me in the eyes as she handed it over. I asked her again, “Miss, what’s going on? Why are you doing this?” The tears began to well up in her eyes and I heard her mumble as she quickly turned and walked out the door, “You guys helped me once…”
I stood there dumbfounded (something that happens to me quite often) and I looked at Shirley and shrugged my shoulders. I thought for a minute to follow her out the door and yell to her that I didn’t want the money and for her to take it back. Then I thought better of it and decided that this is what she wanted to do; I needed to honor her decision. I stood there holding $114 that a grateful person had donated to an agency that tries to help those in need.
A person in need donated to others in need. I’m sure she could have spent that money on herself.
To this day I don’t know who she was; who it was at OFY that had helped her (I know it wasn’t me); how we helped her; and whether or not she’s still in need of assistance. She hasn’t been back. Maybe she’s on her way to help someone else.
We have used that money to purchase emergency supplies for needy children and their moms. I confess that we still haven’t spent part of it…the roll of dimes. It sits in my office in a place where I can see it. It reminds me of a day when someone took the time to travel all the way to an office building to hand out money to someone she didn’t know, as an offering of thanks. In our ‘business’ it doesn’t often happen.
That roll of dimes prompts me to remember to not underestimate the impact we can have on others. It can be through a statement we make; a look we give; a kind word or action we take. Someone here at OFY did that. I guess that’s how we roll; that’s how all of us should roll.