As you and I went about our day Dec. 20, working our jobs and talking with coworkers about our holiday plans and enjoying cookies in the break room and thinking about the presents we have left to wrap, a local man — a member of our community, perhaps someone you know — wasn’t feeling the joy of the season.
He was feeling anxiety, sorrow, and pain. And he was thinking seriously about ending his life.
I’ll respect his privacy and won’t go into details about his circumstances. But being in the news business, a police scanner on my desk, I can say that I hear too often about people in crisis this time of year. There’s been a loss. A job has fallen through. Bills are piling up. Store window displays and TV commercials influence our expectations of what we should be able to provide for those we love. Life’s stresses become magnified.
Fortunately, a police officer was able to engage that man in conversation, helped him put things in perspective, and gave him a ride to medical professionals that can help him. Their meeting ended with a tearful hug.
That man doesn’t know it, but at that moment — empty though his wallet may be — he gave his friends and family the best holiday gift they could ever want: His life.
What we see in store windows and on TV? That’s not what the holiday season is about. Sure, it feels great to give and receive, but what better gift have we received than our own lives? What better gift can we give than to share our lives with others?
We never know what tomorrow will bring. Life is worth living. And one of the great beauties of life is that we don’t walk this journey alone.
If you’re part of this community, you’re part of a family, and your family has your back.
Having a tough time putting food on the table and getting birthday or Christmas presents for the kids? North Kitsap Fishline (www.nkfishline.org) is there for you. Many of the people who volunteer there, by the way, once walked the same road you’re walking. When their situations improved, they became Fishline volunteers. They’ll tell you that we all can expect to find ourselves in a tough spot sometime in our lives. When a neighbor needs a hand up, you give it because you never know when you’ll be the one who needs help. There but for the grace of God go I.
Fishline can also help you keep your electricity on, help you avoid eviction, and make sure your kids have the nutrition they need when they’re not in school. It’s a hand up, not a hand out. (ShareNet, www.sharenetfoodbank.org, provides those same services to residents of Kingston, Eglon, Hansville, Indianola, Little Boston, Port Gamble, and some border addresses in Suquamish and Poulsbo.)
There’s no need to feel alone here. Your neighbors work awful hard presenting community dinners at area churches. Free, no questions asked. Just come on in and enjoy a nice meal and some camaraderie. And bring the family.
In fact, free community dinners are offered most days of the week in North Kitsap:
- Third Monday of the month at St. Olaf’s Church in Poulsbo.
- Last Monday of the month at Seventh Day Adventist Church in Poulsbo.
- Every Wednesday at United Church of Christ in Suquamish.
- Every Thursday at Poulsbo First Lutheran Church (Connie Lord said an average of 35 people attend this dinner weekly).
- Every Friday at Coffee Oasis in Poulsbo (youth only).
- First Friday of the month at Gateway Fellowship in Poulsbo.
- Last Friday of the month at Bayside Church in Kingston.
- Every Saturday but the first Saturday at Gateway Fellowship.
By the way, that man who was helped by the police officer? His children will go Christmas shopping, thanks to the Shop with A Cop program, and the family will receive all they need for a Christmas dinner at home. The kids will even get to buy presents for mom and dad.
See what tomorrow brought?
I asked that officer, Suquamish Police Sgt. Mark Williams, what he tells people who feel distressed.
“You can’t conquer the world,” he said. “If you have a hundred problems you’re dealing with, deal with problem one and then move on to problem two. You can only take care of one problem at a time. Step back and do only what you can do.”
And — this is me talking here — when you feel overburdened and overwhelmed, take a breath. Your wallet may be empty, the cupboards may be bare, but you are rich. Yes, rich — rich in friends and neighbors who want the best for you and want to make it through life’s journey with the whole family intact. And that family includes you.
It’s OK to ask for help. Someday, when your situation improves, you’ll likely find yourself giving a hand up to someone else. It’s called sharing the love, my friend. And that is what this season is all about.
Merry Christmas to all, and best wishes for a happy and healthy 2017.
— Richard Walker is managing editor of Kitsap News Group. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CLIP THIS SOURCE LIST AND KEEP IT IN YOUR WALLET OR PURSE
- EMERGENCY: 9-1-1.
- CRISIS CLINIC OF THE PENINSULAS: 2-1-1 (To connect with assistance meeting basic human needs, mental and physical health needs, employment support, senior assistance, youth and family support).
- NORTH KITSAP FISHLINE: 360-779-5190 (Food, job training and job search assistance, utility and rental assistance, weekend take-home food program for school children)
- SHARE NET: 360-297-2266 (Food, utility and rental assistance, weekend take-home food program for school children).
- WEST SOUND FREE CLINIC: 3:15-6 p.m. Wednesdays at Salvation Army, 832 Sixth St., Bremerton. 1-4 p.m. every fourth Tuesday, 905 Pacific Ave., Bremerton. (Free medical care for all who need it)