The emotional ups and downs of outreach, long but worth the read.
Last night I gave a friend a ride to the warming room at St Bens. I pulled up to his bridge and gave the horn our signature honk. We have been seeing him come up from under this bridge for almost 2 years now. This time though, it was a little different, he walked a little taller. You see, he knew this was the last time I would have to watch him walk up from under that bridge. And you know what he was wearing when he came up? His Hope Dealer hoodie <3 Tonight he will be sleeping in his new bed, in his new apartment. His number has finally come up and he is receiving keys to a fully furnished apartment today!
We talked along the way to St Bens and I said " So last night was your last night sleeping outdoors", he just looked at me and let out a huge radiant smile! He began to tell me about his new place and the times he had to be there to get his keys and how grateful he was to have this opportunity. He then began chuckling and recalling times I may or may not have been acting a little goofy lol. He said, "You know what Eva, you are a little crazy, but thanks for all the times you made me smile"
You could hear, see and feel his relief, joy and gratefulness. His energy made me feel like I was in the presence of greatness. I began to tear up a bit and was then distracted by seeing another friend on the corner. I hit the flashers and we stopped and gave him a $5 McDonald gift card and let him know St. Bens and repairers of the Breech would be open if he wanted to go. As I was talking to him, our newly housed friend in my passenger seat reached into his pocket and gave my friend on the corner the only money he had (0.45 cents) and he told him "Be careful out here and stay warm". It almost felt like a proud big sister moment :)
When we arrived at St. Bens we walked in and were welcomed by the staff, of course we had some snacks to offer lol. When I looked around I seen quite a few volunteers and friends in Hope Dealer hoodies and that was pretty awesome! <3 Everyone was smiling and in great spirits, it was a great place to be.
One of the volunteers who is a regular for Street Angels, said, "There was a guy asking for you and he said to say hi, he said his name was Pops" My heart fluttered, we lost touch with Pops and had been very worried. When I realized he was there I had a mix of emotions, so happy to know he is ok, but heart broken he was back on the streets. When I seen him, we both shed a tear, I told him Shelly would be here in a bit and he clapped his hands for joy lol.
When I first met this man he angrily told me to "leave him the hell alone", when I last saw this man he hugged me and told me he loved me. We have history with Pops <3 He began to tell me how he messed up and was talking pretty down on himself. I told him to stop and asked him to look me in the eyes and said to him "it just means it is time to start over, you got this" he agreed and we hugged again, several times lol.
We began to say our good byes to everyone and told Pops we would try get some information about his case/housing assistance and would meet him there tomorrow. Before we left, we gave all the St. Ben's guests a $5 McDonald gift card that the community has so graciously been donating. Spirits were lifted and Hope was delivered.
It was a crazy whirlwind of emotions to be so happy for one friend for his new beginning and then at the same time be so heart broken for the next friend who is again thrust into this terrible cycle of homelessness.
Luckily, this story with pops is going to have a happy ending. Shelly reached out to Pop's case worker and she was excited and relieved to hear we found him because his case is still open and he still has housing assistance available to him :) He will be back indoors very soon. We will be looking for him this evening to make sure he gets connected to his case worker and gets back off these streets.
While he feels blessed to have friends like us, we feel blessed to be able to help him.Thank you to all who support this mission for allowing us to make these connections and witness these amazing new beginnings.