Last night, during prayer with our guests, I spoke about the distance we've come as a group with relation to friendship and respect between all those present at our weekly "dinner parties." In the routine of our Tuesdays, we have all grown, yes, through challenges, through the sadness of losing someone close to us, through learning to compromise, through seeing poverty, sickness and hunger. It is in these experiences which we have found lessons, some subtle and some more profound. When we shield ourselves from seeing the fundamental humanness of every other person, we actually become less human. As we wind down, we may think that we have finished this journey, but really, another always lies before us.
I received a lengthy and substantial letter from one of our homeless guests last night which detailed ideas and suggestions which, he felt would benefit the homeless of OOTC. Some of the headings included: Greatest needs, Nutrition, Washrooms-Showers-Laundry, Health Care, Safety, Information kits, Gift Packs, Clothing-Bags-Carts-Storage, Changing Lives through Mentoring. Just some of the helpful advise and perfectly worded and explained perspective is shared in the attached. He has spelled out what I have been thinking for a long time, an opinion I can tell from your actions, eyes and hearts which you share with me and each other: There is so much more that we can do. We can do some things better. Yes, much of it will need to be discussed at the Board level, but if we discuss and address the actual needs of those we serve, we will be helping them more. Don't you agree?
The mailbox has been quite busy this week. Another letter came from Fran Roberts, the Kitchen Coordinator of James Street Baptist.
"With just two weeks left to go, I just wanted you to know that I’m thanking God for your servant’s heart and all the hard work and planning that you do to make this special ministry happen. You make the lives of so many folks better and brighter, in their often cold and challenging times. May God bless you in the next few weeks, and always. Love, Fran"
The weather yesterday really lifted the spirits of our guests and even exposed some guests' knees and toes! The donation of 70 or more paperback books almost took away from the delicious meal which 126 attended. I almost had to ask guests to put down their books and eat dinner!
Oh, very important... volunteers who were calling in Monday and yesterday to Sister Carole Anne’s office to confirm attendance to the Volunteer Appreciation dinner, could you phone in once again as there were power surges at their office and their confirmations have been lost.
Finally, and even more important, there are a few requests from our homeless guests.
- a woman's watch which lights up in the dark to be read
- an air mattress or a pad for sleeping which can roll up
- arch support and cushion shoe insoles for shoes size 8-ish, woman
- reading glasses, any perscription
- heavy duty backpacks, bottle carriers, preferably twinned.
If you have any of the above, please let me know, so that I don't buy instead.
And a big thanks to Katie, Angela and other brave soles who perfectly cleaned our freezer yesterday! I am the envy of all co-ordinators to have Mac students like these darlings!
Looking forward to seeing all of you at our last week next Tuesday.
Some Thoughts on HOOTC
Thank you for taking care of us this winter! I don’t regard this service as a right, but as a privilege that I am very grateful to receive. People who have places to live have a different experience of HOOTC than that of a homeless person. These thoughts are from the homeless perspective.
Staying Overnight in the Shelters:
Washrooms, Showers, Laundry:
Clothing, Bags, Carts, Storage:
The volunteers at HOOTC must get very discouraged looking at the endless human needs before them, especially when some guests display an attitude of unaccountable entitlement instead of gratitude. Those needs won’t ever diminish, and ironically, the very services themselves tend to both attract and trap the needy…..Where the services are, there are the needy, in ever increasing numbers. The better you make HOOTC, the more likely you are to be swamped by needy clients. If you can see the value in simply doing righteous deeds to help the needy, perhaps you can be satisfied, and not succumb to discouragement. After all, the LORD cares about the righteousness that you do toward the needy. But if you resent the futility of trying to empty the sea with a bucket, then you either quit altogether, or you deal with the mass of needy individuals, and seek to change one life at a time, starting with the ones most willing to be accountable to somebody.
In an ideal city, a thousand successful individuals would be mentoring a thousand unsuccessful individuals, investing the personal time that no bureaucracy ever could. Where there would be accountability, there would be results that make a difference. In a real city, maybe a hundred? A dozen?
You’ve got the needy in Hamilton, can you get the mentors?