In case you haven't heard it's volunteer season at PUM. Don't worry that doesn't mean we are out hunting for volunteers and are going to blow-up your inbox with guilt-laden pleas for help. In fact, volunteer season at PUM is the exact opposite because every summer our little house on Market Street is full-to-bursting with teams of volunteers, mostly high school youth groups, from every corner of the United States who come to San Diego to be the hands and feet of Jesus by serving the urban poor at PUM.
Last week we had a group from Texas and today Minnesota was in the house. One of the things that I like best about PUM is that PUM makes it easy to volunteer. If God has called you to serve at our little home that is so much more than a home to so many than rest assured you will be welcomed and put to good use. I promise that if you can spare a day, or even half a day, to volunteer at PUM it will be a day well spent.
To do this during volunteer season when there are so many able and willing hands can be tricky and kudos to Ricardo who is tasked with the job of training and supervising dozens of "new hires" every single day over the summer.
Today I was joined at the front desk by a high school sophomore from Minnetonka, Minnesota whose first words to me after introducing herself were, "I'm really uncomfortable being here." Out of the mouths of babes. Isn't that how most of us feel when confronted with the face of homelessness? If we are honest, that's why we avert our eyes at the man holding the sign on the street corner or cross the street when we see someone pushing a shopping cart loaded with belongings approaching us.
After thanking her for her honesty, I explained to her that the days I volunteer at PUM are my best days because you will never meet a group of people like our clients who are more grateful, more kind, and more inspiring; despite their circumstances, they manage to keep smiles on their faces (mostly) and in their hearts despite being in the midst of changing times to say the least. I then partnered Minnetonka with a more seasoned volunteer (shout out to my son Nick) to call clients inside to be served.
It wasn't long before my new helper announced that she was ready to go solo and confidently took over the job of greeting our clients to free my son to work on some projects around the PUM house that needed a little man-size muscle. Once we were done greeting our morning clients and only had administrative tasks left, Minnesota asked if it would be all right if she went outside to keep our clients company while they waited.
I have to admit that I was so busy inside that I forgot to check in with Minnesota as the morning went on, but at lunch time I looked up from my desk to see her bright eyes and smiling face as she happily told me about a gentleman who she had met who had asked her about the devotional book she had with her and so she told him about her daily reading and how it helped her put perspective on her day.
"I let him read today's devotion and he liked it so much that I gave it to him!"
She didn't need to say any more; the look in her eyes said it all. That conversation had made her day and I know without ever talking to him that it made her new friend's day too. That's what volunteering at PUM is all about. She travelled all the way from Minnetonka, Minnesota to make a difference in someone else's life and to make a memory that will last a lifetime, if you are reading this and live in San Diego, all you have to do is come visit us on Market Street.
If you are interested in volunteering at PUM, the first step is hitting the button below to set up a tour and come and find out what PUM is all about and how you can help.
Chelsea Asaro is a long-time San Diegan who resides in Scripps Ranch with her husband, three kids, and two dogs. Chelsea is a steering committee member and volunteer at PUM. If you'd like to meet Chelsea, come by any Wednesday and you'll find her cheerfully manning the front desk at PUM.