Earlier today a small group of us went out and served the homeless. It was hot!
In case you don’t know we are in Texas. The temperature right now is reaching at least the mid to high 90’s every day.
I honestly don’t know what the high was today…I just know it was hot.
We went to a number of our normal stops and gave away a lot of drinks, snacks, toilet paper, books and a few socks. After a few hours…we had given away most of the food. Only a few snacks left. The last place to stop was in the heart of the homeless area and I just didn’t feel we had enough. I hate to start handing out stuff then run out. So we called it a day.
Our group got back in our air conditioned cars and chatted on our cell phones and decided where we would go eat lunch.
We sat in an air conditioned restaurant and ate food that was served to us and drank unlimited amounts of cold beverage.
My guilt boiled up when we packed up and drove away from the people who did not have a choice. I was hot, sweaty and uncomfortable. I wanted to take a cool shower and put on clean clothes. The people sitting along the street, trying to stay in the shade, they didn’t have a choice.
I know for many of them it was a string of bad choices that helped them end up on the street. I know I could also end up on the street. But for this moment this is where they are and where I am…and today I felt guilty for having the opportunity to walk away.
We recently completed our outreach to the homeless. We met a couple sitting outside an abandoned fast food restaurant. It appeared the couple had all of their worldly possessions within reach.
I noticed a white stuffed bear laying on the table, where they had been sitting, I mentioned how cute I thought it was. The woman thanked me then suggested I take it because it was just one more thing for her to carry. I told her I couldn’t do that. I was there to give, not take. She kept insisting. Finally I struck a deal with her. I suggested that I would take it but only under the condition that I would give it to someone that would benefit from it. She agreed!
A short time later, while passing out food along Lancaster (local “homeless area”), we met a beautiful little girl that approached us with her mom and three siblings. I asked the mom if I could give the little girl a teddy bear…she agreed!
Today I drove past the place I met the original bear owner. I wanted to let her know the white bear found a home. Unfortunately, I didn’t see her…but I will keep an eye out for her. I want her to know that her kindness and generosity made a little girl smile.
Yesterday I watched a 4 year old boy feed another child. My heart melted.
We took our friends Amanda and Luevena to distribute some food bags that were donated for the homeless. They thought serving people living on the streets might be a good lesson for their nephew.
At one of our last stops, a lady pulled up in a car. It was not a fancy car, it was a car being held together with wire and duct tape. Apparently she realized we were handing out food. She jumped out of the car (almost before it came to a complete stop) and asked if she could get food for her kids.
Four or five children piled out of the backseat. I directed each of them to the back of our car where little James and our girls (Robyn and Sonya) were passing out bags of food.
I stepped up to observe. I wanted to make sure each child received a bag. In the midst of the group stood little James handing a food bag to a boy his size. The two boys stood face to face…time seemed to stop for just a moment. I wanted to capture the scene with a photo but I didn’t want to cause discomfort for the little boy or his mom.
I wondered what the little boys were thinking. Or if they even realized there was disparity in their lives.
One boy was reaching out for help, for food, for survival.
The other little boy was being nudged by the adults around him to recognize how blessed he truly is.
Both boys gained something in that meeting.
Both boys walked away not even knowing their hearts had been touched
We don’t always get to know why things happen and we may never know why these two young boys were in that place, at that time.
But what we do know is that they both benefited, they both received a gift and they both shared a moment of giving.
Yesterday before we started our bike ride Rachael pointed out a car across the lot. Its doors were open and we could see at least one person in the driver’s seat. She told me the same car was in the same place a few days ago.
When we returned from the ride the car was still there.
As I pulled away I decided to stop at the car and offer the few dollars I had available.
I introduced myself and handed the couple dollars to the man in the driver’s seat. He introduced himself as Rick and the lady in the passenger seat told me her name was Darlene. As I stepped toward the car I noticed a small chihuahua in the backseat. Her name was Babee.
We talked for a few minutes. I told them my friend noticed they had been parked in the same place for several days. They acknowledged they were having a rough time and currently were living in their car.
I explained that myself and a group of friends would be out serving the homeless on Sunday and asked if we could stop by and visit, deliver food and drinks. I also mentioned that we carry dog food with us and would make sure Babee was cared for.
This afternoon as we pulled up in three different vehicles it was obvious Darlene was overwhelmed. She immediately gave me a big hug and told me how happy they were that I came back. She looked around, with tears in her eyes, as 9 of us surrounded them. She thanked each one of us. Rick, not as emotional, but respectful and soft spoken introduced himself and talked about Babee. Both Darlene and Rick were extremely proud of their Babee and told us stories of her many abilities.
Robyn gave Darlene a Women’s Study Bible
We shared food with the couple, Kim, Janie and Melissa checked out Babee’s health and Melissa trimmed Babee’s nails. We gave them water, a Bible and a pillow for each of them. Darlene cried tears of joy throughout our visit and both of them thanked us multiple times.
Robyn enjoyed holding Babee
The couple had an impact on each of us. We left them to serve others, but I think we will remember them for a long time to come.
Rick and Darlene agreed to pose for a picture with the group
A few weeks ago I met Curtis and his dog King. They were panhandling at a busy intersection in Fort Worth.
I didn’t have time to stop when I first went through the intersection. But I couldn’t get them off my mind so when I finished the task at hand I returned to find them still there.
I walked across the street and asked Curtis if I could visit with him and take his and King’s picture.
We walked back across the street and sat by the gas station and talked for awhile.
Curtis told me about the homeless camp he stays in and his “Camp Family.”
He told me how to find the camp and how good the people are that he shares the camp with.
I told Curtis that I want to make people aware of the homeless problem and I would appreciate being able to post his picture and share a little about him.
I ran into Curtis and King again a few days later. He wasn’t in quite as good of spirits. He told me he was hoping to get enough change to get him and King a hot dog at QT.
Today a group of us took blankets, food, hats, gloves, dog food, etc. to Curtis, King and their friends at the camp.
I look forward to getting to know Curtis and his “camp family” better.
Once a month myself and a group of friends go to the “homeless” area in Fort Worth. and pass out supplies.
Today was our day. We took hats, gloves, snacks, water and hygiene supplies.
This was the 5th month I have participated in this activity. Each month we have learned things that helps make the next month run smoother.
The thing we tried this month that made a huge difference was, we parked about a block away from where the largest group of people were hanging out. The reason we did this was so we would have time to get organized before being swarmed.
Being “swarmed” in this situation can be dangerous. But you may be surprised to learn the reason we wanted to avoid the swarm was because we each wanted to have time to talk to the individuals we were serving.
Our plan paid off. We were able to visit with people and find out what needs we might be able to serve in the future. We also had the opportunity to learn a little about each person we served.
Today, we met a gentleman named Alexander. He is a Vet and he made a connection with our two little friends Abbey and Anna. The girl’s dad stood nearby while the girls showed Alexander how they tie their shoes and played with his hair. The unconditional, nonjudgmental love these two little girls were able to share with Alexander was priceless.
We met Cornbread and his dog Tex. I’m sure none of you would be surprised to know I carry dog food with me to make sure homeless dogs get fed too.
Its one thing to help our fellow humans but I believe it is more important that we connect with them. I believe we need to shake hands, pat backs, look people in the eyes and let them know we see them. Let them know we care and let them know they matter.
Today was a good day.