Simpson Volunteer Spotlight: Meet Luanne

Posted on January 24th, 2019

Luanne started volunteering at Simpson’s shelter four months ago when she saw a post on Simpson’s Facebook page requesting meal serving volunteers. She enjoyed her first volunteering experience and made the commitment to helping as a shelter support volunteer on a regular basis. One evening per month, Lu helps with daily activities that keep the shelter running smoothly for guests. “I check to see if the coffee is made. I fold laundry. There are lots of towels and sheets. Sometimes I help sort toiletries, underwear and socks, and give them to the guests,” says Lu. 

Most of all, Lu enjoys the time she spends with the guests. “I have dinner with the guests and converse with them. I just listen to their stories. I say, ‘hi’, smile, and talk to each person. I really like being someone that’s kind to them.” 

Lu remarks about the kindness and sense of gratitude she experiences at the shelter: “The volunteers working in the kitchen are so kind. And I’ve never heard so many thank yous in my life — from the shelter guests. They’re so grateful.” 

Lu has a heart for service and always wants to do more to help. “The hardest part is that you see the great need, and you wish you were able to do more.” Lu encourages friends and members of her church to get involved by helping collect socks or other items that are needed at the shelter. She also offers words of encouragement to people in the community who are thinking about volunteering: “It doesn’t cost you anything. … It’s your chance to make a little difference in the world.” 

Lu volunteers at Simpson because volunteering is something she has always done. “It’s part of who I am. If you volunteer when you’re younger, you keep doing it.”  

Lu’s desire to give back and help people who are experiencing homelessness extends from a painful loss in her own life. Her brother Michael experienced homelessness for over 20 years and died in an encampment north of San Fransisco ten years ago at the age of 55. Lu fondly recalls her brother: “Michael was super smart and artistic. He was creative, but he couldn’t make it in society because of alcohol and drugs.” She also described difficult years before Michael’s death during which she tried to locate him in the San Francisco area: “I tried to find him. I looked in all the shelters. They knew him, but they couldn’t find him. I searched and searched.”  

Lu’s personal connection with homelessness and loss gives her wisdom and perspective that may inspire community members who want to help end homelessness. “People who are homeless need to know what resources are available to them. We need to reach out to the homeless community and let them know how they can get help.” 

 In addition to her role as a Simpson volunteer, Lu is an educator, photographer, and mother of two.  Thank you, Lu, for all you do for Simpson and our guests.