A Towel Tale
Recently, I attended a tour of some of the organizations that United Way of Thurston County supports. One of them was Pear Blossom Place. Located next to the Family Support Center, Pear Blossom Place is a 24-hour shelter for families. The National Alliance to End Homelessness reports that in the U.S. as of 2015 there were 564,708 people homeless on any given night and of these 206,286 are people in families. With 28 beds for families with children and an additional seven subsidized apartments, which have space for 32 people, Pear Blossom Place has been an important resource for people in Thurston County needing overnight shelter since it opened last year.
After our tour, we joined the site staff to learn more about Pear Blossom Place. When we asked “What do you need? What can we do in this moment to help you out?”
The answer came quickly and easily. “We need towels. We need about 40, but we’ll take 1 or 2 or 5. We have people staying with us that can’t take showers because we have no towels.”
That resonated with a lot of people in the room, heads nodded and eyes got teary.
When we returned back to the office, I was contacted by one of our board members who asked, “What would 40 towels cost?” I did some research and let him know. He and his wife immediately said, “Done! Deliver them today!”
As I filled my cart full with towels I made sure there were fun colors like orange, green, pink because I wanted to brighten everyone’s day. People at the store kept asking me what was going on since I had this cart stuffed with towels. I was excited to share with them how I was acting on a need in the community on behalf of United Way of Thurston County.
When I returned to Pear Blossom Place some kids were hanging out in the community room playing video games and the volunteer at the desk was holding a baby. Since her hands were full, she asked the kids to help me unload my car. Everyone jumped up and followed me outside. “Thank you mam, thank you mam!” poured out of their mouths. Two kids, who looked like brother and sister, came along to help. When the girl saw the towels, she said “Oh my god, they have green!” and the little boy said, “I can have a green one too. I get to shower first.” They all rushed inside.
In that moment the experience became profound for me. It was so humbling that these kids were so excited about taking a shower, a basic life necessity that I take for granted. After the towels were delivered, I drove back home in tears. I realized I am always so focused on the bigger picture that I don’t always think about how smaller things can make such an impact. It was a good reminder that a little bit goes a long way and how something like a new green towel can make such a difference in someone’s life. I am proud to LIVE UNITED!