This morning, I received a wonderful email from Dr. Becky Eleck, one of our physicians who works with our Wherever You Are (WYA) program providing health care for those without stable housing:
After an amazing experience Saturday night, I decided that I have to share it with you. Pat Mik (WYA’s amazing nurse) and I attended the first ever fashion show at Shepherd Home, a transitional living shelter in Middletown, CT. It was incredible!
One of the shelter residents dreamed of putting together a show that would showcase all of the residents for their beauty and potential. She got food and clothes donated, and then started selling tickets.
They opened with a skit. She walked in dressed as a bag lady, shaking her theatrically-padded booty as she walked down the aisle, talking about how everyone has baggage that they need to share with others in order to stay sane. She then called each of the “models” down the “runway”. They were dressed in rags and torn up clothes, and each wore an ugly mask. They stumbled “drunk”, yelled and swore, and feigned all kinds of intoxication, exposing the worst parts of their personal histories. And then we learned why she called the show, Rags to Riches. What followed was a fashion show where each model got to strut their stuff in the best clothes that Phyllis could assemble. They had suits and trendy accessories, all donated from various organizations and customized to exhibit each model’s style. And the pride that glowed on the models’ faces was unmistakable!
The first half of the show was to be followed by dinner and the semi-formal / formal segment grand finale.
Unfortunately, I had a prior engagement and had to leave early. I found the hostess to congratulate her, and she started crying. She called the attention of every guest, as they were waiting for their dinners, and gave a grand speech.
She told us the most heartfelt story about her life as diseases and injuries landed her unemployed and ultimately homeless. She talked about her chronic physical pain and the deeper pain that comes from loneliness and being unable to be with her grandkids. And then she shared with us everything that CHC has meant to her. She felt loved when she was informed that she should receive certain medical tests to protect her future which then CHC made happen. As we helped her to get care for additional conditions, we showed her the dignity that she forgot she deserved.
And then she thanked ME, “the doctor,” for coming and asked me to speak… What a humbling moment. I stood up and thanked her for the invitation, commended them all for all of their hard work, talked about their amazing theme, and thanked them for the honor of allowing me into their lives.
As we drove away and I began counting my blessings, I realized just how honored I was to represent all of CHC’s finest qualities, even if just for a moment. I feel so privileged to work where I do with so many amazing people, all of whom are dedicated to restoring dignity and health to our patients.
On that note, Happy Thanksgiving!