Katie Volk interviews “Mr. Larry” about how he provides hope for those he serves. He describes how he approaches his homeless outreach work using his background as an ordained minister, and how it helps him and his clients.
Q: What is your background?
A: I am an ordained minister and a certified nurse’s aide.
Q: Where do you work now?
A: I’m part of the outreach team at Primary Health Care in Des Moines, Iowa. I’ve been there for six years, and hope to make it another six! I drive the van, bringing clients from wherever they are to different locations around the city – the health clinic, the pharmacy, or wherever they need to go.
Q: What does your work involve?
A: I’m one of the first people that clients meet on their way to receiving services. The clinic director who hired me calls me an “ambassador.” The clients call me “Mr. Larry.” Sometimes they want to talk, and other times they don’t. I try to do a short informal assessment with people, so I can pass along any important information to the rest of our team.
Q: How does your outreach work compare with the work you used to do running a congregation?
A: When I worked in the congregation, I was so involved with administrative work and I really missed the one-on-one contact with people in need. My job now has opened up that opportunity for me. I think I’m able to do more ministry through my job now than I was as a pastor. It’s not about faith or preaching. It’s about uplifting another person, reminding them that no matter how bad things are, there is always a ray of hope.
As of this writing, Des Moines and surrounding communities were being evacuated due to heavy rains and extensive flooding. They join the ranks of thousands of Midwesterners who have been displaced over the past month due to rising water levels. The thoughts of the Homelessness Resource Center staff and its partner agencies are with these residents, particularly the most vulnerable among them.
To learn more about the floods, visit:
Type of Resource:
Q & A