This morning, as I do most mornings, I got to the office before dawn and walked. It helps me organize my thoughts and reflect on the day. I listened to music this morning on my ipod. As I rounded the walk around Exall Park in East Dallas, I listened to Leonard Cohen’s “Sisters of Mercy”. The words are quite powerful:
O the sisters of mercy they are not
Departed or gone,
They were waiting for me when I thought
That I just can’t go on,
And they brought me their comfort
And later they brought me this song.
O I hope you run into them
You who’ve been traveling so long.
– Leonard Cohen
The words always move me. The words comforted Iranian American journalist Mazair Bahari as he endured torture in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison. He told Terri Gross that he hummed it all the time while he was in between torture sessions. This morning they brought to mind the wonderful staff at HRI. You see I’m the only male employee. We have ten fierce women who are our staff here. Our clients come through really dark things and they first find refuge here at HRI. They might be fleeing an abusive marriage to an American citizen, the rampant gang violence of El Salvador, a raging mob in Egypt of the torture chamber in Ethiopia. They come here and once accepted as a client of HRI they are met by a team of dedicated, fierce, but sensitive women.
First they encounter Rose, who is the first person to greet them by telephone and is the first to hear their story. Then they meet with our lawyers: Chris, Martha, Melissa and Carol. Each of them is a dedicated and competent professional, who assesses what legal remedies they may have available to them. Once accepted as a client they meet Zainab, our client services manager, who assesses their social needs and refer them to medical clinics, counselors, and housing providers. Our volunteer coordinator Jackie finds them a pro bono lawyer, as well as translators for the documents they need for their case. Our legal assistants Sarah and Kristina arrange the vast amount of details that are necessary to successfully handle their case. Often unknown to them is the competent and steady hand of Pat, our marketing and development director. She is telling our story and very creatively finding the sources for the money that pays for all this great staff. And if you are reading this, you are encountering the competent work of Jeanette our social media guru, who helps us tell this story.
Yesterday was a great example of what these women do. My last sight of them was sitting around a table wrapping the Many Christmas gifts which our supporters have given our clients for our Holiday wish program. My wife Jill and I have loved adopting an HRI family for several years. This year I’ve had the opportunity to watch the joy as people who have probably never had a generous Christmas come by to pick up their gifts. They are overwhelmed with your generosity. I’ve watched women carry bags of gifts to the train station, and fill up their ride’s cars with the generous gifts of our supporters. This was our biggest Holiday Wish program yet, benefiting 42 families.
Please accept our best wishes for a wonderful holiday season. We are very thankful for the privilege of doing this great work and none of it would be possible without your generous support.
This piece was written by HRI’s Executive Director Bill Holston