We all have a range of normal, from the normal amount of laundry soap to put in the wash to the normal amount of peanut butter that belongs on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Most of us would agree that having a safe place for your family to stay is normal. It should certainly be considered normal in the richest country in the world! So by that standard all of our guests  fall outside of the range of normal. This not-normal-ness is incredibly painfully clear to so many of our guests. It often displays itself as shame, anger, sorrow, and fear.  They feel like they are not good enough because circumstances have left them without means to provide a home for their family.

As always though there is a different side of being outside of normal. Author Brene Brown writes that “If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.” Just as the guests live outside of normal burdened with shame they are met with caring, understanding, loving volunteers. People who are willing to walk alongside them in their difficult time reach out with support. This is the other end of being outside of normal.

In a me –first, bigger is better, watch out for number one culture over 1200 volunteers in Lawrence give of themselves, their time, and their money for others in need. This is outside of normal, an outpouring of empathy and understanding, and shame cannot survive.