The Power of Listening

One of the key distinctions of Love INC is a commitment to listen. Each day we meet people who are facing life challenges. Volunteers meet with  these Neighbors in Need to hear their stories and provide assistance. Recently our commitment to listen helped one Neighbor as he struggled through homelessness. This is his story.

Robert, 31, was living under a bridge in Muskegon and looking for work. He was referred to Love INC by a social worker who agreed to drive him to our offices. There he met Jill, who has been volunteering at Love INC for about 15 years. Robert asked if Love INC could supply some clothing. Jill walked him through the process, getting him a voucher for points to spend at the Love It Again Resale Store where he could shop for himself. In addition, Love INC was able to provide Robert with food, personal care items, and a care package we make for our homeless Neighbors.

The story could have ended there, but Jill engaged Robert further, asking him about his story and about his future. “The young man came into our lobby feeling dejected and without support or direction, keeping his head down and mumbling short responses.” Jill said.

“He stated that he thought he probably would be dead in a year.”

“He said he was tired of people saying they would help and not following through.”

After hearing his story Jill recommended a New Directions life skill class meeting at a church near the bridge Robert was sleeping under. “Soon he was having a face to face discussion with me, he was open and willing to talk.” The two decided on a class that would work for Robert, and Jill explained that by attending and completing assignments he would also earn additional points to spend at the store. Jill then offered to pray with him. “I asked Robert if we could pray together to give praise and thanks to God. He said, ‘Yes, let’s do it!’… He left our lobby not only with some physical items, but with a smile on his face, life in his eyes, but most importantly with the hope and purpose only our God can give.”

Robert connected to the church that hosted the New Directions class. In May he was baptized. He has found employment and has healed a relationship with some relatives who are now allowing him to stay in their home as he continues to get back on his feet. “I’m blessed! I’m going to church four times a week, and my aunt is letting me stay in her basement,” said Robert. He explained that the points he receives for attending classes “means less borrowing money” to get what he needs. Food, clothing, classes, and points are all helpful, but sometimes just listening can lead to true transformative change.