Last night I stayed overnight at the First Baptist church with Gettysburg CARES. I was extremely nervous about the while experience because I didn't want to do or say the wrong thing, but once I arrived at the CARES office I was greeted by some of the kindest people I have ever met. I sat down and within ten seconds a couple had come up to me and we started to chit chat about the weather, Buffalo(where I was born), ice-cream, and even the random topic of leaving the seat up. This couple was hilarious and they had obviously been guests at Gettysburg CARES for a long time because they took the initiative to show me around as well as help any new people who had questions.
I heard conversations about their lives and how they ended up in the situation they are in now, most completely out of their control. Whether it be a personal illness or a family emergency, some the people were forced into this spot and not given many options of getting out. When we were waiting for the van to take us to the church I had the opportunity to talk with another woman who discussed her life and music career with me, however she was also the most willing to talk with me about her faith(although I did not ask). She also was one of the most passionate people to share at the optional devotion service that was given once we arrived at the church. She spoke about some of the things she struggled with early in life and how her eyes were opened to God and that has given her hope through all the current and future struggles in her life. Hearing her story made me very emotional not only because of her passion but about her resiliency. There was a real point of reflection in my time at Gettysburg CARES that involved the realization that the guests at CARES manage to be kind, caring, and open even with all their other struggles.
This truly opened my eyes and made me think about all the times I had maybe neglected or been rude to someone, when there was a better way. However, I did get a happy and humorous interactions with one of the guests who I frequently pass and say "hi" to on my runs through the village. We had just casually greeted one another before but when I arrived at CARES he said "hey you're the runner girl." This made me happy to know that our interactions meant something as well as provided a nice ice breaker for the rest of the night. Overall I feel lucky to have gone to CARES and would gladly do it again.