Long Story Short: Serving the poor has made her rich

Linda Lanclos, according to Peggy Reeves, “has inner peace oozing out of her pores.”
Reeves sent me an e-mail nominating Lanclos as someone she knows who lives a life that demonstrates strength and inner peace.
“She has more spunk and determination than most. She has suffered some terrible things in her life and seemingly moves on from them with peace, inner strength and determination that is a witness to others,” Reeves wrote. ” I know the source of her peace, but I feel she delivers her message better than I could. Linda works hard on behalf of others on a daily basis, trying to make their world a better place.”
Less than 30 seconds into my conversation with Lanclos, I had insight into the reasons behind her nomination. Lanclos was clearing a force of peace to be reckoned with.
“About 25 years ago, I went through a period in my life when I was in a great deal of pain. I went through a divorce. Three of my brothers died. My dad was dying,” she said. “I got very angry with God and said I was not going to serve him anymore.”
However, she continued to go to church because she wanted her children to get “the moral fiber they needed,” she said.
One day in church, she heard someone quote a Biblical passage about serving the poor.
“If you spend yourself on behalf of the poor, your life will be like rivers of living water springing up within your soul, and you will no longer be like a parched land,” Lanclos said to me on the telephone.
Lanclos, 55, grew up in the country. She could visualize the meaning of the passage.
“And I knew I was a parched land,” she said.
It was near Christmas time. Someone suggested she organize help for a family. She did.
“After Christmas, I became convinced that people were poor throughout the year, and I needed to do something,” she said.
So, again, she did.
“About six months later, I looked at my life and thought, ‘I’m having a blast.’ I was no longer angry and bitter. I was no longer focused on my life, but I was focused on the lives of others. I realized I was no longer feeling my own pain. There was joy there instead.” When Lanclos moved to Lafayette, she became one of the founders of the Bridge Ministry, a Christian based non-profit that works to empower lives in the ‘Four Corners’ area.
“We decided we didn’t want to be the kind of organization that goes an inch deep and a mile wide. We wanted to be the kind of organization that went a mile deep and a foot wide,” she said. “We are a part of the fabric of their lives. Our numbers are small, but our impact is deep.”
Through the years, Lanclos said her views on helping others have changed.
“I used to think God wanted us to help the poor because they needed our help – and they do,” she said. “But now I think God wants us to help others because they transform us. You feel so sorry for yourself, and then you meet someone who really has problems – like a child who doesn’t know if he’s going to be able to eat tonight. You look at your own life and think, ‘I don’t have problems, I have inconveniences.’ You realize how blessed you are.”
Though I don’t know Linda well, she ended on what I believe may be typical Linda fashion.
“We’re getting ready to have Bridge Market Dec. 6,” she said. “Do you think someone who reads this might like to donate Christmas gifts to our program? Would you mind if I sent you the info?”
Moments later an e-mail arrived.
“Bridge Ministry is collecting Christmas Gifts for needy folks. …This is ‘charity with dignity’—these folks won’t have to pay for the gifts because they’ve already given their time to earn ‘Bridge Bucks,’ which they will exchange for these gifts.”
If you or your organization would like to donate, call 337-235-5565 or e-mail lindaofbridge@gmail.com. You can check out their Web site at bridgeacadiana.com.
And with that, the circle of giving continues.

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