As I think over my years with Mercy, my mind goes back to my service…
When I first began my year of service at Faithful Fools back in August, I knew it was not going to be a typical year as most of the Fools programs had been stopped due to Covid-19. Nonetheless, my experience here has been like no other. I have assisted people in various ways, formed relationships with people from all walks of life, and accompanied individuals at a time when human contact has been limited.
Accompaniment is a big part of what the Fools do. During a year when we are unable to host our regular events, much of what I have been doing is visiting the neighbors we serve in their homes, driving them to an appointment, or going with them on an afternoon walk. Through the time I spend with individuals and the discussions we have, there is much healing that occurs both mentally and emotionally. When I go on a walk with neighbors, they tell me stories about their lives, both good and challenging, and after ongoing discussions and reflections, I see emotional wounds they carry begin to ease up. In my case, I’ve noticed my eyes and heart open up a little more every time I get to be with someone through a challenging time. I’ve learned to let go of my own ideas of how things and people should be and simply allow how they unfold.
In a time like this when many individuals are unable to socialize with one another, they may feel lonely. By being able to enter their homes and accompany them, I am able to help them escape isolation even for a moment. Sometimes spending even a little time with people we support can lift their spirits and although my presence may not solve every issue or problem they may be facing, at the very least some form of healing occurs. Having spent all this time with Tenderloin residents I recently met, I am also inspired to build on my relationships with my family and see what my being more present to them could do.
Ollin Rocha: San Francisco, California