A day filled with love, flowers, hearts, candy, stuffed animals, jewelry, fancy dinners, a significant other or maybe a new date.
Valentine’s Day is a special day for many people here in America, and why would it not be. The grocery stores is packed full of bright red flowers, heart shaped candy boxes, life sized stuffed bears, and enough helium balloons to lift a small child. Fresh cut roses are sold on every street corner. Reservations to any fancy restaurant are almost impossible to make. Elementary school kids share Valentine cards with a favorite cartoon character or movie star to each classmate. There is enough love in the air to fill a football stadium, the only worry we have on such a special day is, WHO WILL BE MY VALENTINE! The people in relationships this is an easy task. Those of us who need to find a date, Valentines is that perfect excuse to ask that special someone out on a date! It has always been a special day for me....
February 14, 2012:
This morning I awoke at 8:00am like any other day. The temperature was 38 degrees and it was raining. During the night the temp dropped below freezing and Atlanta experienced freezing rain. As I walked into work today the only thing that I could think about is how members of the Atlanta community had to sleep in these elements the night before. It was not until I sat down at my desk that I realized that today was Valentine’s Day. Today was much like any other day at Central Outreach and Advocacy Center. I worked with guests that were in need of transportation to work, clothing, emergency food, and Georgia ID’s. I helped one younger man today that was released from prison yesterday; he was in need of a GA ID. We talked for awhile about the struggles the State puts on him and others after being released into society. He was eager to obtain the proper State ID so he could get started in the reconstruction of his adult life. There was no balloons or hearts dangling from the ceiling today, really there was no mention of Valentine’s Day at all in our center. Today we passed out “gifts” that hopefully will continue to give, like we try and do each day we are open.
Today has helped me to put some of what I have learned and felt this year into context. As the outside world spends huge amounts of money on this holiday we have friends sleeping under freezing cold rain. When before I thought that not having a date on this day was the worst thing that could ever happen, I listened to the stories of men and women trying everything to get back on their feet but can’t because of the struggles to obtain proper ID. Or of a qualified man that can’t find any work because of his criminal record. Today Valentine’s Day was just another day for many people that are struggling on the margins. I feel truly blessed that I was able to spend this holiday with them.