Tim and I started this morning at the waterfront to take one of our good friends to the Compass Center where he can take a shower, shave and do laundry. After dropping him off we headed to Belltown where we met Will. Will was shaking violently from the cold during the night, had dried blood from his nose on his upper lip and told us of a severe drinking problem. Last night, while he was drunk, it seems he either misplaced, or had stolen, most of his warm clothes, so all he had overnight was a single old sleeping bag a dirty t-shirt and jeans. Tim mentioned that he was pretty sure the only reason we got him to come into the van to go to breakfast at the shelter was the fact that he was freezing his butt off. He was very grateful for the help and it was sad and a bit emotional for me to leave him, even at the shelter, because I know that he will probably be back on the street tonight in a situation that barely differs from last night. His alcoholic condition makes it next to impossible for him to improve his own circumstances.
Anyway, I was depressed after leaving Will at the shelter and the rest of the morning went by slower than usual because of it. Our next stop was in a seedy part of town where we bring one gentleman coffee and often succeed in bringing another couple of guys back to the mission. This morning we weren't so lucky...
Our two friends were in their usual spot but they appeared hung over and barely stirred when we greeted them. For the first time we saw two young ladies with them, one of them had to be younger than 20, also in the same unpleasant state a person experiences after a night of too much something. On our way back to the van this brought out Tim's rage against drugs and I realized that I was also angry with the guys we usually meet there too. We have started building a relationship but I clearly had unreasonable expectations of, if not their personality, at least their decision making capabilities. It's really terrible that they are homeless but it's far more terrible that they are exposed to these drugs that keep them acting so irresponsibly...and that they would allow two girls to be a part of it makes it much, much worse and definitely crosses several more serious lines.
It's going to be hard to focus on simply helping them and not judging after this but any preaching would fall on deaf ears and only damage what little relationship we are developing. Living as an example is the most powerful way, I think, at least for now, to reach out in this instance.
The rest of the day was more or less uneventful and we finished the day bringing another friend from the waterfront, some lotion because he has Lupus and ran out of his stock.
This morning my path missed Tim's just a bit so I didn't catch up with the van until 7:30am. Then I got to meet another new volunteer, Damien! Nice, tall, young guy. It's going to be fun working with him.
We delivered some coffee first thing and checked in on the guys that were hung over with the young ladies yesterday. They didn't look in much better shape today so we left them to their rest.
When we woke up our next young man he wasn't interested in any help...but we kind of jarred him from his sleep so after a few minutes he caught up with us and asked what we could do. We ended up dropping him off at New Horizon's Ministries, a UGM-type facility that serves kids under 18.
Finally we found ourselves on the waterfront again to end our morning. Tim and I talked with the wood carvers a bit and then did our rounds of Waterfront Park because I had seen someone on a bench as we drove past. Rounding the corner we were in for quite a surprise as we ran into what can only be called a gaggle of kids and their dogs from around the country. I believe there were 6 kids and 4 dogs. It was getting on to 9am when the last breakfast service is at the mission so Damien and I decided to walk back to work while Tim took the packed van back to the mission to get them to breakfast on time. It was comical to watch the van drive off riding low with the weight of happy passengers who had their own surprise in the form of a warm building, friendly faces and some breakfast. They mentioned before we got them all loaded up that this was the first time they'd encountered a program that came to give them rides to where they wanted to be. And like I said, they were literally from all over the county; they listed California, Florida, a couple others I didn't catch and...Tacoma.
I'll be riding out with Tim again tomorrow so maybe I'll have a couple more stories to share by the end of the day. (oh yeah, the van has a sharps container now too, yay!)
Since I'm new at this I might as well ask while it's not too embarrassing...does anybody have any preference for the format of my posts in this blog? ie. should I have one shorter post per day of activity or should I group a few days together like this for ~1 longer post per week?