Thursday, January 27, 2011

Again, A Place For Hope

“I went dumpster diving,” he said, with the happiest of grins spreading across his face.

I had a chance to help out again at the place for hope day center. I was at my post helping keep an order to the washing and drying needed to be completed that morning. I had sat down and looked in the direction of this gentleman, piece by piece emptying his backpack. He said he had hit a good one. I watched the assortment go into keep and discard stacks.

I asked what he does with all he finds. He keeps what he can use and throws the rest back in the trash. About that time he pulled out what looked like a mustache trimmer. He plugged it in and it ran, with an awful sound, but it did work. Bingo, he found something he could use. He did not have a mustache, was very clean cut, but what skin showed had an array of tattoos. And that was what this electrical find would be used for – applying more tattoos. He went on to say, other than the tattoos he received in prison ( I did notice the tattoo tear drops next to his eye – I did learn something from that prison gang reality show that every now and then manages its way onto my TV), he had applied the rest himself, purchasing ink at the local Michaels.

During the morning I noticed, while he did not sit, nor chit chat with another visitor, he did jump up to help the fellow out when he was doing his laundry. Without asking, he shared with us that the other guy’s, partially missing arm, was due to a motorcycle accident several years ago. After several hours I did ask if they were friends, did they travel together. His reply, “naw, we run into each other, but we don’t stay at the same place at night.”

I decided to ask, since this is a day center for the homeless, where he did stay at night. Again that grin spread across his face as he said with pride that he had found a vacant building about four years ago and he has spent his nights there since.

It is a simple life. Why he remains in this spot without running water, electricity, I do not know. Is he really content? Is he content because, for whatever reasons, other avenues to, what we consider, comfortable livings have not opened up? We know some are perfectly content with such a lifestyle. A local paper recently ran an article about a couple of men living under an overpass bridge. I did not know until then, where this rumored abode was located. The gist of the article was, these two are happy living this way. With this situation, though, they are taking up residence in a spot that questions safety for them, safety for drivers and also questions code enforcement and a fairness of rules enforced. A friend who uses that exit often commented that the couples notoriety has resulted in a flood of donations to the gentlemen. There is “stuff” piled even higher than ever, and falling into the street, but the guys have said they prefer cash donations rather than the box lunches.

We all have our paths to walk and we all have our own choices to make. Each of us, it seems, has our own basic needs that might not be the same as another’s. There are those “on the street” that I do not feel pity for, because they are happy and content and their unique basic needs are met. They have a simpler life.

I happen to need a certain amount heat, and running water, electric lights. I still feel for those that this may not have been what they would have chosen. For whatever reasons, illness or spiraling missteps, some find themselves in a spot that is not as easy to get out of as one would think.

Are you still with me? {{Smile}}

You might continue to hear snippets from my experiences with the place for hope, but I will shorten them. Since we all know or can imagine the low part of this lifestyle, I think seeing or hearing about those glimpses of hope in another’s journey is a good thing to share. Even smiles over dumpster diving treasures that bring a smile to another’s face.



FancyHorse said...

I'm glad that that gentleman could smile, even in circumstances that many of us would find very difficult.
Is this a Christian ministry?

Jules~ said...

I would love to hear more stories from your volunteering. My girls and I really enjoy working at Fathers Heart over here by us. It is heart breaking, motivating and inspiring all at the same time. I have learned fresh each time that they teach and bless me just as much as I do for them....maybe even more so.

Maggie May said...

I also would like to hear more of these homeless people.
It is sad that many (mostly men) do not feel they can live in a more settled way and I feel that they have experienced something really bad in life to make them feel this way.
I think many don't really have a choice.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Rae said...

What an amazing story! I am looking forward to next year when my youngest is in school every day and I gave more opportunity to volunteer! I would love to know more about your experiences and how you came to be involved in this ministry. Thank you so much for sharing this thought provoking post!!