Annalisa Lim is longtime volunteer with The Human Impact and regularly takes part in our
weekly Streets Time volunteer opportunities as well as other events throughout the year. She
has made several long-term personal friendships with some of our friends experiencing
homelessness. As she beautifully illustrates in her essay below the goal for our volunteers, for
our friends on the streets, and for ourselves is the same – that we all find connections with other humans and the love and support that we all need from time to time. We hope that we can recognize in each other what we sometimes need for ourselves and are able to give it freely, no matter who you are. We typically go out into the world with the intention to be “the helpers” but as Annalisa points out, and as we often see at The Human Impact, the helping goes both ways.
Thank you, Annalisa, for sharing your insight, experience, and heartfelt words with us!
The Power of Community
When I explain Human Impact to people, part of what I share is that we believe we need the
relationship with our unhoused friends as much as they need one with us. Community is
necessary for everyone, and loneliness is prevalent no matter what socioeconomic status a
person has. I was reminded of this recently.
I have battled with depression since my teenage years. While I am usually victorious,
sometimes I feel that shadow creeping in. A big sign is me not enjoying what I usually do.
Volunteering with THI is something that I look forward to all week and if I don’t feel interested in that, something is wrong. On a recent morning when I was struggling to get out of bed I said no to that shadow and went.
In this funk, it’s harder for me to answer the basic question of “How are you?” I feel like my
friends on the street share this struggle. On this day, the first person I spoke to was someone I didn’t know previously. His name was Scrappy. Without knowing, he got straight to the heart and asked me who I have Bible study with and what good has God given me in my life. As I shared the goodness of my husband, the roof over my head, and seeing the most beautiful rainbow I have ever seen on my drive home from work, the shadow crept away. I shared with another friend, George, the struggle of coming out that day and he got it. He told me of a time he couldn’t get off the couch for months. I shared with Amanda, one of THI’s Advocates. She told me she was glad I came and that it’s tough feeling that way. I was feeling lighter and lighter.
We are doing Streets Time and visiting our friend Sam. He gets a call from another friend who I met through THI and who was formerly on the streets himself, Bobby. Sam spoke briefly to Bobby then passed the phone to Byron, yet another friend we are visiting with. I was getting ready to send Bobby a funny text when Byron was holding the phone out to me. I ask Bobby how he is and he says, “I’m going crazy on this bedrest!!” He answered so quickly and authentically. Bobby was waiting to get surgery at that time. So he was having to limit his activity and is not allowed to be hot. That’s hard in Texas summers. I was feeling lighter, but I know that I needed a little more time with a friend. I asked him if he wanted me to get some lunch and come visit him. Hearing the pride and excitement he had in showing me how his apartment is even more set up since the last time I was there, I was excited.
After being full of good food and good fellowship, the shadow disappeared. Seeing how Bobby was enjoying cleaning up his place, put me in the mood to go to my home and attack some house projects I had put off, but I knew I would enjoy the result. I shared with Bobby my struggle that day and I see now that because Bobby was able to authentically answer how he was doing that day, we were both able to get what we needed: a friend and good conversation.