How to make an impact when the need is so great
WORDS // Amber Robinson, excerpted from her book Mercy Rising: Simple Ways to Practice Justice and Compassion
“The sea of choices is indeed wide, and you’re just one person.” –Mercy Rising
Lauren’s story, an anecdote for not knowing where to start
A few years ago, our church announced the grand opening of a new community center and an invitation for a tour and reception. It may sound silly, but the promise of cake won me over. My husband and I were impressed with the facilities and programs and asked the director about his future plans for the center. He mentioned that they wanted to start a medical clinic. With only one doctor on board and so much to do, it seemed a far-off dream. My husband, a pharmacist, and I, a nurse, had been on a medical ministry team at church. It was the one time I felt God gently push me forward, and before I knew it, “Let me contact some people,” flew out of my mouth.
In six months, we had the clinic open with a lab, a fully stocked pharmacy, a prestigious medical director who had worked at the VA and a policy book that could rival that of any hospital. Anyone in the medical profession would tell you that an accomplishment of this magnitude in such a time frame was nothing short of a miracle.
But the truth is, our work had just begun. Over the course of the next several months, our volunteers had to learn some hard lessons in tough love. Not long after the clinic opened, we realized a patient was having blood drawn every week. We finally found out she was just using the clinic to check her cholesterol. She also left with a large supply of our medications — about 400 pills in a month — and was handing them out to family and friends. We finally had to enforce our regulations, meaning “file your paperwork and follow our procedures, or no more service.” It was difficult but necessary for us to use our resources in the best way.
We couldn’t let the long hours and few instances of misconduct by patients overshadow the importance of our work. It’s often the simple things (in this instance taking someone’s blood pressure or walking with them through the early diagnosis of diabetes), that can really change a life and calm deep-seated fears.
A grandmother brought in an infant with an ear infection and a temperature of 102 degrees. Less than two dollar’s worth of antibiotics and Tylenol did the trick. The woman was so grateful, and I knew we were doing vital work. Our clinic is run with the utmost professional care— labs, medications and follow-up with patients. Just because patients are poor, doesn’t mean they don’t deserve the best care. If we don’t help them, who will?
Before volunteering at this clinic, I was a surgical nurse for 16 years. I assisted in one surgery that lasted 16 hours. After the patient and doctors left, the room looked like a war zone. We were exhausted but still had to clean up before we could leave. I turned to the other nurse and said, “I don’t know where to start.”
“Pick a corner and work your way out,” she replied.
That’s how I view helping the needy– we see the war zone of hunger, AIDS and other tragedies, and don’t know where to start. But making a difference in one person’s life is huge. Pick one thing and try it. Find a small corner and work your way out.
For more on Amber’s book, Mercy Rising, or to purchase a copy, click here: https://amzn.to/2Z9WMh8