Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A commentary: Called to help others October 6, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 9:14 AM
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Seeking help in Monticello. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo September 2022)

THIS MORNING IN READING one of two daily devotionals, I was reminded of the need to help others. The referenced scripture, Leviticus 25: 35-37, published with the October 6 Our Daily Bread devotion, brought back a scene which unfolded recently in Monticello.

On our way home from a short stay at a family member’s central Minnesota lake cabin, I spotted a woman holding a sign along State Highway 25 just before the Interstate 94 overpass. She stood in a center island, at a stoplight, traffic swarming around her. Her sign, with many misspellings, requested help for her and her three children. Help to pay for food and rent. Basic needs.

I felt in that moment a sense of compassion, yet an inability to aid this woman. And, I admit, I also felt a bit of uncertainty, a hesitancy, a questioning of whether she truly was in need. That reaction bothers me. Why couldn’t I simply trust the truthfulness of her request?

That brings me back to Leviticus, chapter 25, verse 35:

If one of your countrymen becomes poor and is unable to support himself among you, help him as you would an alien or a temporary resident, so he can continue to live among you.

That’s a powerful directive. Help him, or in the case of the woman in Monticello, her. Whether you are a person of faith or not, the Bible holds important messages that today fit the definition of “social justice.” Compassion. Mercy. Grace.

Not all of us are in a financial position to assist with gifts of money. But there are many other ways to help our friends, family, neighbors and, yes, even strangers. Encourage via kind and supportive words—written or spoken. I like to send uplifting cards with handwritten notes of encouragement. Pray. Engage in conversation, mostly listening. It’s about taking the focus off ourselves and placing it on others. Educate yourself via reading, attending community events that enlighten and more. Volunteer.

The woman in Monticello, even though I couldn’t aid her, gives me pause to reflect. So many people are struggling. With health issues, relationships, finances, simply trying to meet basic needs. Throw in the current divisiveness in this country, an ongoing pandemic, worldwide threats and conflicts, and the situation can feel overwhelming. Yet, we are all capable of doing something. Of reaching out with compassion and care. Of connecting. Of encouraging, supporting, uplifting in some way, large or small, that shows our humanity.

TELL ME: In what ways have you helped others, whether family, friends or strangers? Specifics are especially welcome.

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


22 Responses to “A commentary: Called to help others”

  1. I see people standing on the medians in busy roads around here all the time. I always have that reaction you had: are they truly in need and why is it so hard to believe them? Sometimes I give money if I have it. Mostly I just drive by, though, and feel bad. So many people in need. And even if they aren’t telling the whole truth, they must be in some kind of dire straights to be standing on those medians in the first place. Who am I to judge their need? Who are any of us? Those are big questions. So, we donate to Second Harvest Heartland on a regular basis. Before the pandemic, we used to help distribute food at various sites around the metro area. We answer calls for donations at specific times – such as when South Minneapolis nearly burned to the ground after George Floyd was killed. Then, we brought bags of groceries and diapers and toiletries to sites in the area so people who lived there could get what they needed while the stores were being rebuilt. There are a lot of ways to help and there are chances to do so every day. Today, we’re actually getting the help. COVID finally found us and my friend Luann is picking up our grocery order for us! Compassion is everywhere. 🙂

    • Kathleen, thank you for sharing examples of ways you’ve helped others. I appreciate your compassion for those in need. And that you find yourself on the receiving end today is a good example of how quickly things can turn. I’m thankful for your friend Luann helping you today with that grocery order pickup. Be well, my friend.

  2. It is a delima, isn’t it? I was sitting in my car years ago eating a Subway sandwich for lunch. I got a foot long and was saving 1/2 of it to have for dinner that night. I had a man approach me asking for money. I told him that I had no money but would gladly give him the other half of the sandwich that I had. He accepted it. I’ll never know if he was really in need, but I was glad that I could at least give him a meal.

  3. You hit it right on the head – humanity. The organization I work for is community centric with a focus on humanity and providing exceptional patient care. We do our part with the Veteran organizations, food pantries, etc. Sometimes it is handing out waters and gatorades to the garbage people or delivery people during busy or peak times throughout the year. Sometimes it is just the simplest kindness that makes a person’s day. Take Care ((((((((loveandhugs))))))

    • Thank you for all the wonderful ways you are helping and uplifting others via your job. I expect that carries through on a personal level also.

    • Yes it does. I was blessed to grow up with love and support and not really aware of the monetary aspect of lean and tight times. As soon as we were old enough to help out we were assigned a task and did not think much about it and helped out on other farms and with other families and friends too. I had some very lean times in my late teens/early 20’s and it taught me to prioritize what was important. I am fortunate now that all that hard work I can give back physically and at times monetarial.

  4. Merlin Kletscher Says:

    For the last three years, Iylene has been in charge of our church’s ( Grace Lutheran) quilting for missions group through WELCA. Each year over 75 quilts are assembled and donated to various local organizations, nursing homes and Lutheran World Relief. My part has been cutting fabric into quilt blocks (about 3000 each year), helping assemble “take home kits” and loading boxes as needed, even as a male not a member of the WELCA women’s group I find this a rewarding pastime.

    • Uncle Merlin, thank you for cutting all that fabric, lifting all those boxes and the many other ways you help others through this quilting mission. What a blessing you, Iylene and other volunteers have been to so many individuals. You are also carrying on your mother’s legacy of quilting.

      I once received a handmade quilt from a support organization and to this day am grateful for not only the warmth it provides but, more importantly, for the message of love and support I still feel when I use it.

  5. beth Says:

    this is such a beautiful missive and reminds us of what is important. no matter your faith or background, compassion and support of other people is a cornerstone. one way that I love to help, without a lot of extra money, is that I take part as a shopper for families in our community’s ‘warm the children program.’ each year, families in need are identified through schools and community outlets and names provided. some in the community donate money, and others donate time and personal connection by shopping with the families. I always worry about children being cold in the winter and this provides money for each family to purchase what each child needs to make it through the season, outdoor wear, warm pajamas, slippers, underclothing, warm pants and shirts, etc. I cannot tell you how wonderful the people are that I have shopped with, each parent/family has a story, and have survived many challenges, and yet are still so hopeful and full of gratitude. I once wrote a post about a woman I was with and checking out, when another woman in front of her was short less than 2 dollars. (both in the same program). we are not allowed to give them any extra money other than their donated amounts, but the woman I was with, who had huge personal struggles in her own life, reached in her own person and gave the other woman the money she needed. I have never shopped with any family who did not tell me of their own accord that they would help someone else because of this. brings me to tears just thinking about it .

  6. There are so many ways we can help and even if you didn’t help this particular woman, I have no doubt you have done your share of helping over the years.

    Lately I have been “helping” our neighbors as we call them through donations to Sharing House—- our local place that gives all kinds of aid. Specifically they needed bottled water (easy to buy and not a huge $ investment) and blankets as we have hundreds of people in our county who live in the forest in tents and in cars. I trust this organization and know our donations are needed and used well.

    If someone is uncertain about giving directly to a person there are always places like Sharing Housethat can get donations where they are needed most.

    • Thank you for sharing ways you are helping in your community. And, yes, donating to reputable organizations is definitely an option. Often I wonder why people in this country are living in forests, homeless encampments, etc. I realize there’s no one answer and sometimes it’s a choice and root issues exist. Minneapolis just cleared a homeless encampment yesterday. It’s a complicated story involving crime, health and safety.

  7. I almost never drive pass someone asking for help! I have been on that side…it takes a great deal of courage to stand with a sign for hours in the elements to ask for any small act of kindness! It is truly a last resort for most who live in the street, either temporary or long term.
    The most recent I can remember was a young man I helped in St Louis, MO who nearly scared me out of my wits when he knocked on my vehicle window at a gas station when I stopped to fill up! He asked me if I had any money for food. I told him if he stepped away from my car and stood by the curb and waited for me to finish filling up I would help. He did as I asked and when I was done I had just gotten some extras for my road trip back to MN (from a good friend). I gave him all the food I had (about two meals worth). He clearly hadn’t had anything to eat for several days and his appreciation showed. I also told him it was most likely not a good idea hanging around the gas station asking for help as most people would have just called the cops or worse.
    I always cry when the universe presents these to me. But, acts of kindness in all forms is what makes the World a better place.

  8. Sandra Says:

    Interesting insights here. In some cases, no thought for personal safety. Recently I had a short, young asian woman with a child over her shoulder, come literally in my face in our Cub parking lot, asking for food money. She was still there when I came out. Our church is the Community Resource Ctr for Washington Cty. The mission of “helping” is totally built into the building and programs. I especially relate, as I sit in my warm house, to bringing up to 20 into the gym for safety from the extreme cold with volunteer “hosts”. This country’s so mobilized to safely enabling those that can help those in need, if help is needed, a call to our church and many others with programs, will answer the call. We’re not perfect, but I feel the calls for help get answered, even if we still have tent cities, which I really don’t understand. Apparently gov’t still has issues, the average person is getting it done best they can.

    • I appreciate what your church is doing as the Community Resource Center for Washington County. So many individuals, churches and organizations are doing whatever they can to help others and for that I feel grateful. Thank you for serving others. It’s good to hear from you!

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