Meaningful Conversations

Dawn Zern - September 14 2018

Volunteering, Homelessness, Mental Health, Community, Events

Meaningful Conversations

I am often asked, “how do you talk with someone who is homeless?” I have come to believe the question behind this question is “how do I talk to someone who is a stranger?”

We are taught early on not to talk to strangers. And everyone finds comfort in talking with friends who they have a lot in common. As an introvert, I would prefer to go really deep with fewer friends. But when I am volunteering, I have often been told meaningful relationships can help people get to a place where they are ready to get back on their feet.

When you volunteer at the Mission there are many opportunities to just talk and hang out with the guests (people in our long-term men and women's recovery programs). For some people this can be awkward, intimidating, or even frightening.

I remember the first time I came to the Mission to volunteer. I was 23 and I went with a group of friends to serve lunch at the Men’s Shelter. We finished the tasks quickly and were invited to sit and chat with a group of men. I had no clue what I was doing there. I really wasn’t sure what I had to offer and I didn’t feel like I was helping.

Years later, I had the chance to be a supervisor at one of our shelters and the tables were turned. I was the one regularly asking volunteers to go and talk with guests, and just hang out. What I learned is that through conversation some guests really have the chance to have someone to listen, offer respect, and encourage them during a difficult season of their life.

This opportunity to connect volunteers and guests is a primary objective for us, yet can be difficult. We understand! 

We've put together a training opportunity this fall teaching you about having meaningful conversations when you are volunteering with those in need.

Please join us at Calvary Chapel South on September 25 from 6:30-8:30pm

This training is appropriate for ALL AGES (please be mindful that your younger kids are expected to be able to sit quietly through this training, no child care provided).

Light refreshments will be served, please plan on eating dinner beforehand.

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018
6:30pm - 8:30pm

Calvary Chapel South
1340 W Smith St
Kent, WA 98032

*Some parking is available on site.

Dawn has worked for Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission since January 2011.  She began at Hope Place, our women and children's shelter. For two years she ran the Mission's former Emergency Family Shelter in Belltown before joining the Church Engagement team in March 2015.  Dawn’s passion to help those in need comes from her seeing God’s providence in her own life. 


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