A Night on Outreach
I missed being out the prior week. It was the “bench” crew as Eva and Shelly were meeting up with new friends in new places with Hope2. Dan, Michael, Jeci and I headed out with hot pizzas and plenty of hearty lunches to see who was going to be in their regular spots.
The night was like the others. Making our rounds, passing out food, seeing a couple of new faces. At a McDonalds stop, one of the largest, I was handing out lunches and some were to people that I knew couldn’t be sleeping in the cold on the streets. How do I tell them “no” you can’t have this. I ask them after giving them what felt like one of everything in the bus “where is your camp?”. They stutter and reply with a common name that they have heard someone else tell us. I know that it’s not true. Can I be the one to make that judgement call? The ones that ask for item after item after item, while others are so content and satisfied with a bagged lunch and two slices of pizza; the ones that I know could use so much more. I get back on the bus and simply say; well I am not the one to judge. I can’t lie though; I worry I gave that one couple too many items. I hope I’m not in trouble. I make a note in the book to watch for them this next week…
Another stop and a walk under the bridge…I hear the Brewer game on the radio…but no response the first few times I call out “Street Angels! Anyone here?” Finally I hear a “hey!” and I ask if he would like dinner and lunch. A Pause and then a response of “I’m good”. I say “are you sure I can’t leave you lunch?” a half hearted reply is “Well I don’t want to put my shoes on”. I gladly offer to walk in further and leave the bags outside the tent. I’m “new” to M. He’s never seen my face even though I’ve walked down there before. He lays on a mat of some sort at the outside of the tent door. His friend is inside sleeping. He is an older gentleman, I think it’s M, but at this point who cares what his name is. He’s intoxicated. He groggily stares at me for a moment “Who are you?” I said “I’m Joelle. Eva and Shelly aren’t here tonight but I’m with Street Angels.” “Oh, I haven’t seen you before”. “Nope, my first night seeing you too; can I get you anything else? Hand warmers?” he replies after taking a moment “No we are good with hand warmers”. As the Brewer game plays in the background, I ask “What’s the score?”. After a pause while he starts to lay his head back down… “zero zero”. I let him know that we will be back on Thursday and to be safe; have a good night. Again I get on the bus, and say well, we can’t fix all the problems. Who’s to say I wouldn’t be drunk too if I was “living” under a bridge. It’s not for me to judge.
The rest of the nightly route was pretty quiet. We didn’t see a bunch of our friends; makes us wonder if we missed them, if they are in a different place that we don’t know about. “I hope they are good” is what I think to myself. G wasn’t at the ER, R wasn’t on the grate, L wasn’t at the courthouse, I wonder where they are.
I’ve been out 4 times…4 times.
I get home, lay down in bed, and my mind wanders about them all; and I look forward to seeing them next week.