Thanks to Anngie
by Andrea Powell, HPCCR Electronic Communications Manager
Have you ever met a stranger who just draws you in? Someone you don’t know, but who (you feel certain) would welcome you to unburden your problems? Someone who (without knowing you) would patiently listen and understand? It’s a rare and special person who has this gift of feeling and compassion. At HPCCR, we are lucky to have more than one of these folks in our midst. And just last week, we were especially lucky to have one at the Veterans Stand Down.
Stand Downs are events that provide services to homeless Veterans such as food, shelter, clothing, health screenings, VA and Social Security benefits counseling, and referrals to a variety of other necessary services, such as health care, housing, employment, and substance use treatment. They are collaborative events, coordinated between local VAs, other government agencies, and community agencies serving the homeless.
HPCCR participated in the Charlotte Stand Down last Tuesday at the Grady Cole Center. We had taken up a collection of travel-size toiletry items (thank you, HPCCR staff!) and created small “kits” to hand out. Our Education & Resource Managers (ERMs) manned the table. And one of those ERMs happened to be Anngie Williams.
Anngie is one of those people I was talking about. Anngie will literally do anything to help out someone in need. I truly believe that people don’t intentionally seek her out, but if they are in need of an open heart and a willing ear, some imperceptible inner radar will drive them directly to Anngie.
Case in point number one. An older Veteran, Mike, made his way over to the Grady Cole Center last week to check out the event. He didn’t really know why; he didn’t see how it would help his situation. He walked in and made his way over to the HPCCR table. And then he zeroed in on Anngie. “Where is the suicide prevention booth?” he asked. Anngie, without hesitation, stood up and went over to Mike. She took his arm and led him around to each and every booth at the Stand Down. She talked to him, learning his story while she circulated him through the housing booth, the crisis education booth, the counselor for further services, and others. She got him registered into the “system” and then she took him over to the suicide prevention booth, where she insisted that he talk to a counselor right there and then.
Turns out, Mike had pretty much lost interest in life. He told Anngie, “I’m invisible” and “If I die, there is not a single person that would know or even care.” He had lost touch with any family, he was living on the streets, he had applied for services through the VA and had never heard anything back (he didn’t know that you have to be persistent and call them back over and over). Before Mike came to the Stand Down, he felt like an oversight, forgotten and completely neglected. But then his radar found Anngie and, after only several hours, he felt the stirrings of hope. He came over to thank her before he left and these were his parting words, “For the first time in years, I feel like things are looking up.”
Case in point number two. A younger Vet came in made his way over to the HPCCR table. Again, he zeroed in on Anngie. “I have a friend back at the shelter,” he said, “who only has a few months to live. He’s on the heart transplant list and he also has cancer.” Anngie told him immediately to call his dying friend. Once they had him on the phone, Anngie convinced him to come in and talk to hospice. After he arrived, Anngie educated him about hospice care, persuaded him to give it a try, and then wrote a note for him to give to his physician that detailed exactly what needed to happen to bring this man under our care.
Now, Anngie is modest. She’ll say that these amazing occurrences had less to do with her and more to do with the incredible progress HPCCR has made with our Veterans initiative. And she’d be partly right. Since joining the We Honor Veterans program (a joint initiative of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and the Department of Veteran Affairs), HPCCR has been focused on tailoring care to Veterans who need our services. Staff members have been receiving ongoing Veteran-centric training throughout the year, making them more equipped to handle the distinct issues that our serviceman and women have at end of life. When Veterans come under care, we acknowledge their service and present them with a special pin, recognizing the contributions they’ve made to our country. As an organization, we have made great strides, indeed.
But Anngie is unique. She has a gift. The opposite of the Grinch, she has a heart that is ten times bigger than most. Yet she’s also made of strong stuff. She can hear the most devastating story in the world, and rather than be torn into a million pieces, she will calmly proceed to easing the pain; doing everything within her power to help that person in need. No questions asked. No thanks necessary. It’s what makes her perfect for this job. It’s why the radars of lost souls hone directly in on Anngie wherever she goes.
Representatives from HPCCR were at the Stand Down event all day long last Tuesday. Our booth may not have had the most traffic. But, in the grand scheme of things, we made a huge impact. A life was saved that day. Hope was renewed. Loving care promised. All thanks to Anngie.Explore posts in the same categories: advocacy, awareness, end of life, hospice, special events, spiritual care comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.