“It’s not just street people.” That’s how Tim Eagan began his interview with me. He wanted to be clear that The Caring Place is for everyone and is helping more people than you think. Tim wanted to dispel some myths as well. The way Tim excitedly described The Caring Place, he brought to light that everyone in our community has a way to benefit here. Tim noticed that local grocery stores are donating here so food doesn’t go to the trash, people donate items to clean their homes out, volunteers donate their time so they stay busy while helping others and people like himself get the help they need.
When I told Rebecca, Tim’s Case Manager, that I’d be interviewing him she said, “Tim has been an exceptional Case Management participant. He came in eager to set goals, meets regularly to discuss his progress in achieving those goals, and is very optimistic about the effect they will have on his life.” This is probably what Rebecca and her co-workers often hope for in case management participants. I doubt Rebecca was surprised when Tim wanted to speak with me about his story. This is someone who has even taken an unpopular, but needed money management class called “Money Matters” because he knows he needs more information to get by. Tim also knows that The Caring Place wants him to become independent, and he wants that, too.
How does The Caring Place help Tim? Beyond goal setting and planning with his Case Manager, Tim receives free bread through The Caring Place’s Daily Bread program, participates in HOPE (Healthy Options Program for the Elderly) and receives clothing vouchers. In the past, Tim also received rent help and assistance with utility bills. You might ask why this help was needed? Tim, like many neighbors, had a medical crisis. In this case, one common medical ailment brought him to The Caring Place looking for help to meet his immediate basic needs. Now, Tim shares, “Every aspect of my life has been touched by The Caring Place.” While talking about his struggles, Tim continued, “At The Caring Place, they are dealing with human beings. They treat you like a human being.” Whenever Tim wanted to be sure I really understood something in our interview, he’d repeat it. This quote he repeated, but the earnestness in his voice was all that it took to understand the first time.
When Tim spoke specifically about the Food Pantry, a place you can find him a few days a week to pick up bread, he said, “The Food Pantry is how I get a lot of my vitamins. It supplements my diet.” Since Tim swings by the Food Pantry regularly, it was easy to find someone who knew of him. I was impressed when the first thing that was said about Tim was, “Oh yeah, Tim brings empty carts to us, lets others go ahead of him when it’s busy and opens doors for people.” Growing up in the south, these simple manners speak volumes.
I think what struck me as most interesting about Tim is his self-awareness. He knows The Caring Place plays a big role in his life and he summed it up when he said, “When you believe in something like I do, and you benefit like I have, you need to say thank you. So, thank you!”
This is why Tim took the time to be interviewed; gratitude. Gratitude for help with bills when he needed it, gratitude for food, gratitude for his case manager Rebecca for taking the time to listen and gratitude for a place that cares.