Message from the Director

“Once in a great while, something occurs that stops us in our tracks, and forces us into a silent assessment of ourselves. This was one of those days. Time was running like a carousel. As each hour passed, paperwork repeatedly crossed my desk. A diversity of people, all seeking relief from their illness needed attention. I smiled, though, as I remembered that no day at the Volunteer Clinic was typical, and that each person carries an individuality whose needs are unique and require a different antidote. And today was no different.

Around noon, a middle-aged gentleman strode carefully through the door, as if he were feeling his way into a dark and unfamiliar room. He was worn, scuffed at the edges by years of rugged work. His clothes hung loosely around his thin frame; the toughness of once strong muscles now stretched tautly over gnarly-boned hands. He was tentative as he approached the desk. His arm was hurting and he asked if he could see a doctor about it as he needed to be able to return to work as soon as possible. I had to tell him that since it was Friday, there were no doctors in and that he would have to come back on Monday. His eyes shifted uneasily to the ground. I offered him a brace for his arm until he could see a doctor. His eyes smiled as he thanked me and he then pulled out an old tattered wallet, held in place by duct tape. He opened it to reveal what appeared to be several one dollar bills, as rumpled as the hand that was fondling them. He made his way to the donation box, and I watched as he thumbed through each one carefully before lifting all of them out, dropping them into the box. He silently slipped through the door and was gone.

While plowing through my mind where to plant this experience, it occurs to me that it is those who seem to have nothing who give everything. How many of those bills would I have hung on to? Though I wanted to run after this man and give them all back, it was very clear to me that my perception of his need was not the same as his, and it was the exposure to his perception that day that elevated mine, reminding me that who I am is not found in my wallet, and that he who possesses that knowledge is truly rich indeed.

Though I do not know why it is always those who seem to have the least that give the most, I do know one thing: if there had been one million of those one dollar bills in that old wallet, what would the world not have that it needed?”

-DeAnne Staheli, MSN, APRN, Director of the Doctors Volunteer Clinic