Gratitude through the hard times

A few weeks ago, I was greeted by the bartender at a local restaurant, who remembered me from when I worked in the battered women's shelter in the 90s. At the time, she was a teenager with a couple of sisters and, even though her mother had left their father, she struggled with the years of abuse that were behind them. I ran the children's program at the time and spent many hours with the kids and teens in support groups, playing games and just hanging out.

It was lovely to talk to this -- now -- woman and see how happy she is in her life. She told me that I was the best thing about having to stay in the shelter. She remembered the activities we did together and how I made it fun for them to be there.

One of the sad things about working in the shelter is not knowing what happened to your clients after they left. If I see a woman on the street who I knew at the shelter, I do not approach her, as a confidentiality issue (if she's with others) and out of respect for the possibility that she doesn't want to acknowledge that time in her life. It's up to her to decide if she wants to approach me.

It means so much to me to know I helped people. Every couple of years I'll run into a former shelter client, a woman or one of the now-grown children. I love knowing that I was a part of such a transformational change in their lives, even if only for that short time.

Today I'm thankful for everyone who's been there for me during the hard times in my life. And I'm also thankful to have had the opportunity to be there for someone else.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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