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A Message from Matthew

December 11, 2014

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you  clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.”  Matthew 24:31

I’m a church-goin’ gal and this Sunday I sat in a quiet church and heard these words spoken. I had a few moments to contemplate that, based on these words. I am one of the luckiest people in the world: I get to live out these words, and see them lived out, every day I go to work. Whether you believe in the source or the mythos, the quote c an be deeply moving, holding up an example of the way we would all like to be treated, and hopefully, to treat others. Every day I see examples of these sentiments, and I’d like to share some with you.

“For I was hungry and you gave me food” I have been able to see someone hungry, and hand over my peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Actually, my sandwiches have become a little joke around some of my clients; they refer to them as ‘gourmet’ pb & js, but I usually don’t have to give my lunch away because the Salvation Army does such a wonderful job feeding the poor, and church volunteers hand out daily dinners at the shelter, throughout the year.

“I was thirsty and you gave me drink” For the last two summers I have walked along Main St handing out water to people who have spent the whole, hot day out in the open; by three or four in the afternoon they are pretty parched, and I’ve had people cry as I hand them a simple bottle of water.

“A stranger and you welcomed me” Now the weather is colder: homeless people wait outside the back entrance to the Federated Church, waiting for us to open it up for the four times a week Coffee House. They stand out in the cold, stamping their feet for any warmth, pulling their collars up and staring at the door, willing it to open.

When we do let them in, we can greet them into the warmth, make sure they have a cup of coffee and some food; the Federated Church always makes sure their hall is toasty warm for our people; almost inevitably we hear a deep sigh from each person as they enter the hall; you can see them visibly relax when they no longer have to fight the cold.

“Naked and you clothed me” Once a month our dear friend Izzy has a clothing give away for our homeless, and she makes it a point to visit the Coffee House every Wednesday to see what anyone needs for clothing; and she is always at the end of our email for any worker who has a client with clothing needs. She and her wonderful volunteers have saved many a life with their winter coats, shoes, gloves, hats and scarves.

“Ill and you cared for me...” The Duffy Health Center. The compassion and caring that I see on a daily basis within the clinic’s walls is overwhelming at times. Some of our patients are difficult; the reality is some are dirty, psychotic, terribly depressed or have lost all hope. Some of our patients are killing themselves with drink or drugs. Some of our patients have had their families and friends give up on them, for valid reasons. But our staff; medical, behavioral health and case management, treat all of them with respect and sensitivity. They deal with one difficult person, take a deep breath and go on revitalized to the next one. We talk about the fact that our patients have inevitably been traumatized by what they have seen and are living through and giving them respectful treatment is a big part of the care we provide, as much as the antibiotics and blood tests. We walk with our clients on their road to death and also witness the  miracles of live through modern day medicine, often all in the same day.

“In prison and you visited me.” Duffy Health Center has a therapist who visits the Barnstable County House of Correction to help prisoners get ready for discharge.  Then, when they are released we connect with those ex-prisoners and enroll them in our Vivitrol program, a monthly shot that helps quell the desire for opiates and alcohol, hopefully helping our patients stay clean, in conjunction with our therapy and health care.

Sometimes our patients are called ‘the least amongst us”. In the eyes of the volunteers and staff I work with every day, these men and women are the most important people in our world. I am truly blessed to see the expression of Matthew 25, and the best of what is good in this world, writ large across the faces, hands and hearts of my friends and coworkers.

Please help support Duffy Health Center care for those in need; consider making a donation on our website so we can continue providing services to the needy and vulnerable across the Cape. Visit our website at www.duffyhealthcenter.org and look for the purple donate  button.