JoAnn Morris wasn’t going to pick up the phone. It was two minutes before the end of her shift taking calls for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and she was tired.
The 82-year-old disabled woman volunteers for the Catholic charity, which provides food, clothing and household goods to people who have fallen on hard times. During a typical four-hour shift in her home, Morris said she answers 30 to 40 calls. “It’s quite stressful,” she said.
On the other end of the phone this time was a young mother of five who told Morris she was desperate for a bed for her children, who were sleeping on the floor of their apartment.
It was two days before Christmas, and the St. Vincent de Paul distribution center at 1201 E. Maryland St. was closed for the holidays. Morris didn’t know what to tell the woman, other than that she would see if she could make something happen. She wrote down her contact information and hung up the phone.
Almost immediately, it rang again, and Morris again thought twice before answering it. This time, it was a young man. Morris remembers him saying, “Ma’am, I’m sitting outside your warehouse, and it’s closed. I have box springs and a mattress I wanted to drop off before my new ones are delivered.”