FIRST THERE WAS THE ISSUE OF THE MATTRESS… Joanna’s college-aged son was moving from one house to another and needed a new mattress. The post went up on Facebook: “Does anyone have a double mattress they want to get rid of?” Within thirty minutes a friend replied that she had a mattress taking up space in her hallway. Come and get it and it’s yours! It was just the first of several offers she received. Now that was FAST and sheer generosity.
AND THEN THERE WAS my recurring struggle… After twenty-five wonderful years in the classroom as a high school history teacher, I am nearing retirement. And while I earnestly look forward to this life-change, I am not ready to “go gentle into that good night.” As I pondered what I DID want to do, I could not imagine any offering except something in the education field. And while I love and cherish my time in the classroom, I have already “lived” that dream. But wait – THAT was the problem – I had no new dream! For several years I had prayed and mulled over endless options and scenarios, but no lightning bolts struck.
AND THEN THERE WAS the Over-Flow shelter housed at our church… Augsburg Lutheran was gearing up for the opening of the winter shelter for the homeless. For decades, our congregation has been involved with providing for the needs of the homeless population in Winston-Salem: from volunteering at Samaritan Ministries, to supporting Crisis Control, to setting up housing for immigrant families through Lutheran Services Carolinas. For the last couple of years we have been providing an in-house Over-Flow shelter through the winter months by partnering with Anthony's Plot and City With Dwellings.
AND THEN THERE WAS our dear friend Lynn… She has a younger sister, Beth, that now lives in Raleigh, but had grown up here in Winston-Salem. In 2010, Beth and her friend Jackie,
co-founded The Green Chair Project, a warm and inviting non-profit in Raleigh, where folks transitioning from homelessness to stable housing are invited to choose home furnishings for their new homes. Through Lynn, we had been following TGCP’s activities since it opened, and had shared her excitement as she made buttons for volunteers and brainstormed along with Beth.
WHICH BRINGS ME BACK to that early August afternoon in 2014. As Joanna and I sat on my screened porch, I once again lamented how a new school year about to begin and that I was not ready, but it would still be but a couple of years until I retire. And then she shared her mattress story. We marveled at the speed and willingness for people to share their abundance with others when they know the items are needed and will be appreciated. It brought to mind The Green Chair Project in Raleigh and our own homeless shelter at Augsburg. AND THERE WAS THE LIGHTNING BOLT!! It was in that conversation, that greeNest was hatched.
Looking ahead to the next few years, we both know big changes are on the horizon. We look forward to sharing what we have with those who need it most. And hope that you will, too!