A few weeks back, I delivered food to a shelter, and some guy was on a rant and began to yell at me. I still have no idea what his overall point was, or if he even had one. He was yelling something about me, and about America. For all I know, he thought I was from another country. It was obvious he was speaking from a place of pain but I could never really nail down what exactly it was he was trying to communicate.
America? What about America? And what, about America, would someone yell at me as I’m delivering food to them?
Maybe he expects more of me, or America. Maybe he feels like America has turned it’s back on him. America is a very generous country, and if you have to be in poverty, America is probably the place to do it. But it’s no fun being on the bottom rung of any country, and he obviously felt enraged about something so maybe that’s where he sees himself.
We can do more. We waste enough resources to feed and clothe all of the people of the world. I’m not talking about any of us giving up what we have. I’m talking about not wasting what we don’t need. Search the site, and you’ll see actual numbers of what I’m talking about but it’s staggering.
I met a couple who live in a tent community. It’s not far away from the shelter, but sometimes the shelter for all the good things it provides, just isn’t the scene some people want to handle, even if the alternative means living outside. I’ve heard about noise, theft, violence and overcrowding. I’m glad the shelters are there, and they are a lifeline, but for those who don’t want to be there, I could understand it.
But to live in this weather, in a tent?
I talked with “Tiny”. He’s my age. Very open, honest, friendly guy. He didn’t fit the model of what some people view as a homeless person. Any other setting, you’d never know.
I had to ask what the battery was for. I figured lighting. But they use it for heat. Heat? Why not propane? There are catalytic converters, we use a device like it on the corner sometimes.
Nope. He says that’s why there is one less tent there. A guy left it on, it burned up all he had.
I had called out when I arrived, so people wouldn’t think I had come to steal something or, well…anyone is going to want a guy to announce his intentions before walking up on their lawn and snapping pictures.
Some others have indeed left to go to the shelters because of the cold, but their homes are still there.
The couple say others have come, snapped pictures but wanted nothing to do with them, just sold the pictures somewhere and moved on. But some church folks come down, bring water (a constant need and more difficult to carry than some other things) and other stuff they need. I didn’t want to show up empty handed, so I brought some of the items my aunt has given us and some food. Medical conditions are a constant issue, but help is on the way for some of that as well.
This is one camp, there are many others, but I wanted to share a bit of what I saw there today. I thank “Tiny” and “K” for their hospitality and for givingme their insight on this issue.
Wow. What a Sunday! Donations were larger than usual and the day was absolutely gorgeous. We cleared out all the donations in what had to be some kind of record…Maybe $500 worth of food and material supplies every 10 minutes til it was gone. It was more along the line of a flash mob than a gathering (20 at a time til 50 or so had been served). After we said the prayer, the boxes were being emptied as fast as I was bringing them out, and yet everyone remained polite. No pushing, pulling, crowding, yelling..just people smiling, being polite and even stacking the empty boxes neatly as they went. We also fed our 6 adopted families. Our people also donated another $600 or so to the homeless shelter for youth, and our usual shelter for the homeless in South O! One of the women I talked to surprised me by saying she was 86, Now, she does seem older, but the idea of being 86 on the corner is just sort of extraordinary. She, too, is always polite and unassuming. great conversationalist. In the prayer I thanked God for never forgetting about us, and I hope that, in addition to rolls, gloves and fruit, people take away from the corner that God hasn’t forgotten about them. It’s why we do what we do.
2 Weeks ago I made a night delivery to the homeless shelter. Outside a man couldn’t decide whether to enter or not. He was very out of it and wandering around. I offered some assistance to the director but by then the man had finally decided on a course of action and wandered off permanently. Police were called not because he was a danger to anyone else, but to have him wandering around in that neighborhood in that condition was a significant danger to the man himself. Indeed, he was headed out into fast moving traffic by the time police were seen. It reminded me a bit of an article I read on whiteclay. I’ll include a link to the article. It’s difficult to save people from themselves, but sometimes medication of underlying conditions can take away the need for the drugs people use to repair their sanity (which, in the end, rob them of their sanity anyway). I don’t believe there can be much in the way of meaningful recovery without God, as an individual comes to know him, anyway, but that’s where we can come in. We don’t yell at people for having cancer, and we shouldn’t harm people with addictive behavior further. Surely there is some extra wrath for those who would take advantage of them, as in the case of White Clay. Support, good advice, the best care and more than a bit of prayer is what I would recommend for both. Great food and some freshly brewed coffee doesn’t hurt either, eh? Above all, being God in the flesh by providing help and love where we can will pave the way for their relationship with God later on in life and we need to do all we can to safeguard that.
Link to White Clay article
We had a very busy week!
We are now delivering food directly to 10 families and of course, continue to bring food and goodies to the Stephen Center and YES.
Of course, we would like to thank our volunteer, Travis, again, for helping us every Sunday!
It feels great to know that people trust you and think of us! Last Monday I got a wonderful call from Bakers bakery letting us know that their donations were not picked up, and that we could go get them.
What an amazing donation it was! We had around 15 pies! and at least 7 boxes of donuts!
Of course, we quickly distributed them, because the temperature was around 105 degrees that day.
Five families got pies and pound cakes that day! And of course, the rest went to the Stephen Center.
I have to thank the lady from the bakery for remembering us!
It has also been a very difficult week. We almost became homeless ourselves, and I cannot even begin to tell you how it felt. I’m writing about it now, because our situation was solved with the help of my father in law, but sometimes all you need is one thing to go wrong in your budget to end up in the streets.
My husband and I many times have jokingly said that there isn’t that much of a difference between the homeless we help and us… we have a tight budget just like most American families and this week, it became a problem.
What an amazing weekend it has been!
As I mentioned before, shadow lake had included us in their big live event and I wasn’t sure how it was going to work, but all the volunteers gave us a big gift: half a day of rest!
Today is fathers day, and thanks to our volunteers for this weekend, we will get to spend half of it off.
Last night, we would have made it home by 11pm or so, and we have Joan and her family to thank, since they delivered panera bread and we were home by 9:30pm.
This morning, what normally takes me more than 3 hours (depending on the volume), was done in 30 minutes! Danielle, her husband and another girl from shadow lake’s youth group came to help! We made two boxes for two different families, and sorted the food for the Stephen center. They offered to deliver it for us, and by 10am I was done with that part of the day!
Now, because it is fathers day, we will be taking a break from our corner in downtown Omaha, and we will not be picking up food in council bluffs, but we wouldn’t be able to truly have half a day of rest without the help from our volunteers!
So, again, thank you shadow lake for including us and very special thanks to Travis, Danielle, David + their friend, and Joan + family.
Thank you so much!