Homeless Ministry Hosts Friend from Boston
Leigh Maynard, a homeless man who has become a dear friend to many students at Gordon College, came to speak to a group of twenty students on Saturday, November 12, 2011. While sitting around the table in Tavilla Conference Room, I and several other students had the privilege of hearing Leigh share his life story. I was deeply touched by his honesty and willingness to share with us his seventeen-year long experience as a homeless man and the various struggles he has had to overcome. Despite the death of his wife and two children, the loss of his house, and his declining health, Leigh is able to still find joy in everyday life. The situations that he has encountered on the streets moved me to tears and led me to painfully ask God, "Why? Why does life seem so unfair? Why did all of this need to happen to Leigh? Why him and not me?" These questions occupied my thoughts as I listened to his story.
Leigh has greeted Gordon College students in Boston Commons every Saturday since Gordon’s homeless ministry started eight years ago. He is known as the man who likes to draw smiley faces on the hands of different people he talks with. Calling Saturday his “favorite day of the week,” Leigh likes to count down the days until he is able to talk to his friends again. His appreciation and love for community exceeds most. He feels truly happy simply by being in the presence of others. His longing to be loved and understood drives him to be an active participant in the community Gordon seeks to create. I believe that God is using Gordon College’s homeless ministry to not only bring practical humanitarian aid in the form of food and clothing, but more importantly, the love of Jesus Christ and his compassion to those who are hurting. Leigh and many other homeless friends have expressed their gratitude and appreciation for our willingness to share our lives with them.
I am so grateful for the advice I have been given and the life lessons I have learned through my conversations with our homeless friends. The homeless continually teach me the importance of simplicity, generosity, love, and community, lessons I will be able to take with me beyond the Gordon community.
I am appreciative of the Gordon College’s homeless ministry and indebted to my dear friends at the Commons who have forever changed my life by their simple presence and raw wisdom. Leigh is truly a friend to many, a role model to some, and an inspiration to all. Because of people like him, I am thankful for the Gordon College’s homeless ministry for giving me the opportunity to meet such wonderful people.
Leah Serao '14—Homeless Ministry team member FA11
Windrush Therapeutic Horse Farm: An Outreach Team Reflection
During the Fall 2010, I led a group of ten Gordon students in an Outreach Team to Windrush Farm Therapeutic Riding Facility. The barn is a non-profit facility that works with physically, mentally or emotionally disabled children and adults. Riders participated in small, group riding lessons and our job as volunteers was to assist with lessons by being side-walkers or horse-handlers. Usually I filled the assigned role of horse-handling which consisted of tacking up the horse prior to the lesson, helping lead and direct the horse during the lesson, assisting the rider in following the instructor’s direction, and un-tacking the horse after each lesson.
I was not only a volunteer at Windrush but also the student leader of an outreach team serving the farm. This enabled me to become more familiar with the inner workings of the administrative offices at Windrush and to establish a closer connection with more staff members at the barn. I want to be clear that my ability to lead this outreach team would have meant nothing if it were not for the girls that chose to participate. My strength in leading depended entirely on their participation and on the willingness of Windrush staff to invite us as volunteers. One girl who volunteered at Windrush had no horse experience but she was able to build a close personal relationship with the rider she worked with and the other volunteer who helped her. She worked with a 14 year old boy who had cerebral palsy and another woman who has been his volunteer for the last six years. She is only one example of the many people whose strengths were different than mine but valued just as much if not more.
Through my time at Windrush I was able to learn the significance of being fully devoted to any involvement in a program like this one. Everyone who is at Windrush is there because they want to impact the lives of the children and adults they are working with. The volunteer coordinator said, “I do this, we all do this because it really matters to us.” While volunteering was a large time commitment and sometimes it wasn’t very fun, it never felt like a burden. I felt very committed to the mission that Windrush Farm had for itself and it was obvious that everyone else there felt the same amount of dedication towards the program.
Aashley Thompson—Windrush Farm Outreach Team Leader FA10