KAREN SMALL is the new volunteer coordinator for the Owosso Homeless Angels campus on Park Street. Small is a Sparrow nurse, currently doing home hospice. She previously assisted in a similar capacity with Walls of Warmth, and her home hospice position allows her to organize meeting the needs of the local homeless population around her job – something she feels a strong calling to accomplish.
“I just have a heart for them. They are just people, often ignored, and many others don’t know how to interact with them. I love to interact with them. It is very rewarding,” shared Small.
Regarding people in the county whosdtend to not acknowledge the homeless population, Small said, “I think some just want to say that it’s not here, because they think it is a stigma on our community. When the homeless are in every community. It would make us a bad community to ignore them. Truthfully, so many people do want to help. They just don’t know what to do or how to get started.”
Small will now be available through Homeless Angels to help volunteers “get started.” Utilizing an app named Sign Up Genius, Small will be able to coordinate efforts and monitor needs as they arise. “One of my duties is to check the app and make sure all positions are filled,” she stated. If they aren’t, she will then reach out to volunteers, either through texting or social media, to aid in meeting needs efficiently.
Small lives in Owosso with her dog, Xander. She has two grown children who also live in the area. In discussing her previous experiences, she said, “I connected with so many people from different communities all over the county. Some of the volunteers would share with me their struggles. Here they were, having struggles and still wanting to volunteer.”
She reflects on a homeless gentleman she met while working as a night nurse. She shared that he was quite difficult, but she didn’t allow that to stop her from trying to get to know him. He was an alcoholic Vietnam veteran who was shut-off from his family. Ultimately, he showed her that he was just another lonely person, struggling through life. Some of the stories he shared with her have stayed with her, offering her inspiration to continue to help others.
If you are interested in volunteering with the Owosso Homeless Angels campus, please contact Small at email@example.com or text/call her at (989) 277-6882.
(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)