In the last few months, my office moved from the first floor to the second floor of The Next Door. Prior to this, I only rode the elevator upstairs when I gave tours of the building. Now, I am up and down on the elevator multiple times each day and I get the opportunity for short, yet powerful encounters with our clients as we ride together.
For example, a client recently opened up to me out of the blue by saying, “you should be really proud of me.” Or course, I asked her to tell me more! She explained that she been addicted to suboxone for 5 years and after coming to The Next Door for treatment, this was the first time she’d ever been clean for 5 days in a row! She praised our Medical Director and couldn’t believe that this doctor actually took the time to listen to her, and pray for her, specifically that her nightmares would stop. This was all in 1 minute elevator ride!
Just this week, a client walked in the elevator after Art Therapy and had in her hand a t-shirt that she had painted. I asked her to show it to me, and shyly, she turned the shirt around and the words painted on it were so poignant, “I got 99 problems but drugs ain’t one.” In response, I had to chuckle because I believe this quote is a lyric from an old rap song, but it struck me how true this probably is of the clients we serve. I bet this woman could have rattled off to me 99 different things that were wrong in her life, but it inspired me to know that because of her courage to walk through this next door to her recovery, she can now say that drugs aren’t one of those problems. I gave her a high five and told her I hoped I’d see her wearing that shirt around the building with pride!
Sometimes, the encounters I am privy to are a co-worker hugging a client and wishing her good luck on her job interview that day, or simple compliments shared back and forth about someone’s make up or hair style. One day, a woman was crying in the elevator, and I asked her if she needed a hug. It’s those short moments of kindness that seem to go so far with the population we serve. Since I first became involved with The Next Door as a volunteer in 2008, I remember that the tiniest bit of encouragement I would offer a client would go a long way to give her confidence and positivity in her day.
That’s what keeps me coming back to work each day. That’s what motivates me in my role of event planning and fundraising to further the work we do and expand services to more and more women who need our help. The core value of this ministry that speaks to me most is that of ENCOURAGEMENT. Not only do I get the chance to encourage women each and every day in the elevator with a hug, a high five or finding some common ground during our short ride together, but I also walk out the elevator doors feeling encouraged myself!
I am grateful to serve in such an amazing ministry that encourages women to focus on their future and looking ahead to a new life – without drugs and alcohol. And, I love how small gestures of kindness make such a difference in a woman’s day. Who knew elevator rides could be so inspirational, educational and affirming to me in the course of my work day?
Kate McKinnie serves as the Development and Events Manager at the Next Door.