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2 min read

Everybody Has a Story: Meet UGM volunteers Bob and Sharon

As a case manager at the Men's Shelter, Bob McLellan says he’s become a better listener. “I used to be afraid to talk to homeless people on the streets, I was disengaged. But this place changed me.” He says his wife can attest to that. “I wasn’t the greatest listener or good at talking with people who were struggling, but I love what I do down here. I love hearing the guys’ stories. I tell them I’m not a counselor, but we can work together to work on a plan, work on some goals.”

When he is assigned a new client, Bob has a two-page questionnaire he walks them through. “They’re hard questions,” he says, “starting with have you ever had treatment for a mental illness, what’s your drug of choice, are you on parole? But it’s amazing how open they are. They’re very forthright.

Bob McLellan

“I’ve learned that everybody has a story and it’s worth listening to. Most of the time we’re too busy to find somebody’s story on the street...you know, they’re blowing up for some reason, but what’s the real story here? That takes time, but it really is worth it.” 

Bob says, “If you come down to volunteer, the surprising thing is what you’re going to get out of it. The reward is much more than I expected.” 

 

“I choose to be here because you’re worth it.”

 


Sharon Johnson has faithfully served at the Crisis Shelter for thirteen years. She admits being in case management can be exhausting, but it’s worth it.

“I had a woman in here once who said to me, ‘Don’t you have a life? Why spend a single second of your time at a shelter when you could be doing absolutely anything else?’ I told her, ‘I choose to be here because you’re worth it.’”

Sharon

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. “Their stories are rough, sometimes the women themselves are a little rough. The kids are experiencing chaos, the moms are in crisis. Nothing about this is easy or comfortable for anyone. Sometimes they don’t choose recovery and sometimes they come and go for a while before they’re able to accept our guidance and make choices that will benefit them, but it’s when they do finally decide, ‘This is what I need, this is what my kids need,’ and we see them get that determination and stick with a program, that’s when my heart rejoices. And of course, there are all those times when you’ll never know the difference you’ve made in someone’s life, but you know you took the chance when you had it and you shared the love of Christ.

“That’s what it’s about for me: whenever I’m case managing someone, I tell them that it is Jesus alone
who can truly set you free. Getting out of a toxic cycle, a generational cycle, is next to impossible without Him, but with Him... there is no limit. It comes down to: I want them to have victory and I know Jesus is the lifeline.” 

 

 

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