Morning Watch 6/14/11
Seems like I've had a lot of posts lately but it's been a busy time down at the shelter. This morning was the first day we were joined by a new volunteer who has actually been in the UGM Men's Shelter recovery program for the past 11 months and is now tasked with filling some of his time with work, part of which he's fulfilling by joining the Morning Watch van. It was lots of fun to watch him interact with the homeless people we met today because he was so excited to be out there trying to help and was in-tune with their situations in a way that Tim and I, hopefully, will never be able to understand.
Our first stop was back at Westlake Center visiting the lady we see most mornings. She wasn't doing as well today and we never managed to get her up. Part of the problem may have been the method by which her rest was initially disturbed. Just before we reached her, as we were parking the van, I watched a police officer, Officer J. Dotson, approach where she was sleeping, and abruptly remove a piece of cardboard she had on its side shielding her from wind and perhaps a little noise. He grabbed one of her bags and tossed it aside and finally reached down, grabbed her sleeping bag and pulled it down and off her. A complete and absolute disregard for her well-being and lack of any compassion what-so-ever. I don't care what experience you have on the street, I'm sure he sees and deals with homeless people all the time, it makes me sick to think that someone that I trust by default to serve justice in my city, someone that I pay with my tax dollars and someone that should be a role model for the citizens of the city, would treat another person, especially someone so vulnerable, in such a manner. Some kind of sick, disturbing power trip...and from what I've heard this is more than likely the rule, not the exception.
When we finally got to her and introduced ourselves to the officer he smiled without a care or concern in the world, like what he was doing to this poor lady was completely normal and shouldn't cause the kind of shame I expected to see in his eyes when he looked up. Our new volunteer offered his hand and introduced himself and the officer rejected the handshake! He said, "no, I'm okay" and proceeded to ignore our new Men's shelter volunteer. I didn't offer him a handshake after seeing this, though now I wish I had because I'm curious if he'd have accepted it after shunning the man standing next to me.
He left and that frustration was at least passed, if not quite over. After all that we managed to wrangle 3 new folks to take them to breakfast. One of them was in a wheel chair. She could walk but had something wrong with one of her legs so it was with a distinct limp. Fortunately wheel chairs fold up so we were able to fit everybody and their things into the van.
As we prepared to leave a kid approached the van and asked about what we were doing. He said he was starving but couldn't join us because he was with friends and they all had bicycles. We told him how to get to the mission and when breakfast was served and hopefully they made it, though we didn't see them down there after leaving Westlake Center.
Next we took our new volunteer down to the waterfront to see the totem pole and meet our friends there. I told one of the carvers about a laundry service in Belltown because he was asking about options yesterday but he had already figured something out...there is a surprising lack of coin laundromats near the waterfront. We were only there briefly before receiving a call up to the Town Center to pick up the same two older folks we've met there a few times before and from there I just walked to work as it was almost 9am already.
I've been looking for more blogs like mine so that I can read up on what other people are doing and I've found several awesome sites. One in particular is invisiblepeople.tv This is a great website/feed that interviews homeless individuals on camera and asks them about their stories, how they got where they are, what they are doing to get off the street and the hardest question: "if you had three wishes, what would they be?" There are some very powerful videos up there and I recommend watching a few of them when you get the chance. I may blog about some of them in the future but I'll give some of you a chance to catch up first ...my posts are getting longer and more frequent, I've got to watch that I don't lose anybody because I get too laborious to read.
Peace, and God Bless