This work-in-progress is my story of how a year of volunteering at a homeless shelter helped me to understand my own life and come to terms with my depression.

In 2013, when a typhoon devastated the Philippines, my first impulse was to pack my bags and rush to the disaster zone. I’d done this twice before in other far-off lands. But, this time I couldn’t—my children needed me at home. So, I recalled the words of Mother Teresa:

“Stay where you are. Find your own Calcutta.

Find the sick, the suffering and the lonely right where you are.”

I traded in my stethoscope for an apron, serving up compassion along with the soup. I washed dishes with juvenile delinquents on community service duty, and I interacted with addicts, alcoholics and the mentally disturbed.

Working in the shelter prompted me to review my life—my travels in ten countries, my daughters with mental illness struggles, my husband with complex medical issues, my past mistakes and adventures.

The novel shows a real-life solution to personal problems, one found beyond the pages of self-help books. In the resilience of the homeless, I find strength of my own. Ultimately, helping others helps me.