Morning Watch 6/13/11
This morning Tim and I met a man from Sudan. He has been in Tacoma for 11 years staying with family but has been mostly homeless for the past 3 years due to a drinking problem. He reminded me very much of the man we picked up last week that was found shivering in just an old sleeping bag and his jeans and t-shirt. He had the same forlorn, depressed expression that was bordering on tears because he couldn't get out of his drunken rut. Nothing to do but bring him to breakfast and help him sign up for a bed for the night.
Then we headed to Weslake Center again and met up with the lady we see there most days. This was a somewhat good day for her in that she was in a decent mood but she was complaining about being sick because she injected "something" that wasn't hers. She told us she had a large, painful swelling on her shoulder and wanted to go to the hospital but she didn't want us to take her. We had almost convinced her to come to breakfast with us but then a couple of her friends showed up and distracted her. I hate to judge based on appearance, they could have been good friends of hers, but it seems likely that they were actually her suppliers and before we had finished cleaning the cardboard and trash from her sleeping area Tim and I were pretty sure they'd sold her something. But she ultimately left with another friend of hers that came by and offered to take her for coffee...she was a popular lady this morning, which was pretty cool to see (so long as I assume the first couple were just good friends...)
During our conversation she also mentioned that she wants to write a book. She told us the name of a chapter that she'd just thought up, "Concrete Pillow" and I asked her if she'd started writing it yet. She hasn't and I wanted to ask her if she'd thought about formatting her book as a blog instead since that would be easier for her to manage in her position...I'll ask her next time she's feeling well I think because we got interrupted by all her friends.
Next we drove up to the Stewart street off-ramp, by the Orien Center which ministers to youth, and walked around there for a bit. There were a few young people sleeping under the shelter of an overpass next to El Corazon but they didn't need anything but the coffee we offered. Rounding the corner we saw a young lady that Tim recognized and we talked to her for a bit, giving her information on how to get in to use the emergency room and other clinics that might be able to help her with a problem that she didn't explain to us. Then we told her about a couple of the programs for women in the city, like Mary's Place, and went on our way as she didn't need anything else.
Finally, as usual, we ended our morning at the waterfront. I bought a t-shirt from the John T. Williams memorial (I'd been promising to for a long time but never have any cash...) and we picked up one more gentleman we hadn't met before and took him to breakfast. All-in-all a pretty successful day.
On my walk back up the hill I saw and said hi to Larry for the third time now. He was the man that we tried to take down out of Seattle a ways so he could catch a ride out of Seattle. He was glad to see me again and almost actually remembered me this time without a reminder.
After a frustratingly long time on the phone with Barnes and Noble I headed home in a bit of a mood. I ran down to the bus stop only to see the 522 leaving as I turned the corner and was frustrated because I was in a hurry to get home to meet my Dad. As I awaited the next bus, a tall man, probably about my age, came up to me and explained that he needed $5 to stay at the Men's shelter downtown for the night because they start charging for beds after the second night. I wasn't in a good mood and am ashamed to say I was a bit accusatory when I said that that wasn't true at all...which it isn't for the UGM Men's shelter. Unfortunately he was talking about the Bread of Life shelter so I felt like a jerk. I asked him why he didn't stay at UGM and he told me he would never go there again because people tried to steal his stuff last time and he'd heard rumors about bed bugs...which I don't think is true.... Then I asked him what we could change there to make it better and he said they should be more selective about who they let stay there, "just a little bit more" he said. I thanked him for the info and told him I didn't have money to help him with, forgetting that I had some cash left over from the weekend in my pocket. Remembering this a few minutes later I caught up with him down the block after he'd finished asking some other folks for help and gave him a little cash to help him get a room at his shelter. He told me that he was trying to get back into college, filling out his fafsa and all that because he's had no luck getting work without a degree, and that he had been trying really hard to get things figured out and get off the street. He is very faithful and is eager to follow the will of God, even if it means that he doesn't get off the streets...though he hopes it will. I told him a bit about the program at UGM and encouraged him to give them another chance, talk to the welcome center and see if they can help him out. He sounded like he might be interested in that. I just hope he's able to fulfill his dream, ever so simple, of just getting back into college so he can turn his life around.