She had been talking for days about wanting to help her son with some back to school supplies.

She was staying in Micah’s respite house, and her eleven-year old was in the care of a family member. But that was even more reason for her drive to do the mom things, as he started his year. 

Then a message came through from a caring member of the community. 

“Do you have any kids/families who still need back to school stuff? I want to shop child-specific interests — you know, if they like unicorns or cats or something,” the writer wrote. “Because that was always fun when I was a kid. To get something I liked.”

Hope consumed her face when we offered the opportunity to pick out her son’s school supplies, at the generous donor’s costs. 

Born with a learning disability, our friend had grown up incredibly dependent on her mother. Mom took care of most of her needs and that of her young son, with very little involvement or responsibility on her part. It was her mother’s sudden and tragic death only a few months prior, in fact, that sent her spiraling into depression, addiction and an eventual suicide attempt. 

Being at respite was now training wheels for independence, responsibility and what it would take to manage her own needs. 

Delivering the Nike Hoops Elite Pro Backpack to her son before he returned to school was the first of many connections she would make while cared for in the safe stability of Micah’s respite house. 

For the first time in her adult life, she began seeing a primary care physician. 

She began processing past traumas and developing coping skills with local treatment providers. 

She got involved in AA and NA meetings, developed positive friendships and eventually found a sponsor who drove her to look at apartments and retrieve her mother’s ashes from the last place she had been staying. 

Within a few months, she located housing and continues to seek support from the respite team as she practices her independence in the community, works on her physical and mental capabilities, and develops the support structures to help her down the path of recovery.

As with many Micah programs, Respite does very little to fix the layers of problems of those who stay in our care. We are a safe place to be. We are a people willing to enter the brokenness and sit with the struggling for as long as it takes to heal. And, yes, we offer a little bit of problem solving and technical support. 

But at the end of the day, we are simply the people who find other people, organizations and resources to come alongside them on the ride. 

In just a few months, Micah’s respite ministry will be ten years old. Nearly 1000 people have spent a night in this unique shelter for homeless exiting the hospital in need of place to recover or die with dignity.  To date, it is the only one of its type in the state of Virginia.As hospitals typically incur $2,500 extra per homeless patient, the cost savings this program has brought to the community is estimated at more than $2.5 million in the last decade.  

Among the many who have come alongside us in this important endeavor are Mary Washington Hospital, Rappahannock United Way, the Community Foundation of the Rappahannock River Region, the Rappahannock Community Services Board, the Lloyd Moss Free Clinic, the Community Health Center of the Rappahannock Region and the countless families, individuals and groups who have gathered around our table with a meal for our guests.