Street Stories

Weblog of Seattle minister to the homeless Rick Reynolds, Operation Nightwatch

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Location: Seattle, Washington, United States

Caring for human beings seems like the best use of my time, homeless or not.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018


Apparently some folks in local government came to see one of the homeless programs after hours. It must have shook them. Some funding has been restored. It wasn’t our program, so I won’t name them.

There’s something about looking into the faces of the people being served – old, physically worn, disabled, broken. This will clear bureaucratic fog, to meet some homeless people at 10:30 at night.

Tell us what to tell homeless people at the end of the night at Operation Nightwatch when there is no more shelter in the city. “Where can I go?” they ask us, as we hand them a blanket and a bus ticket.

It’s a question I’ve been asking for 20 years, and still don’t have a response. Why should anyone be sleeping outside when we have buildings empty and heated overnight? Inconvenient?

Too bad.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Some things are easier to fix than others

I was talking with a homeless friend recently. She didn’t want pepperoni pizza – so I was curious. “Vegetarian?” No, she said. Sore teeth. Yikes. And she just started a job this week – not easy to do when you’re sleeping on a mat in a wet tent.

Have you got a plan for dealing with your teeth? Not yet.

Hey Pastor Rick you got any bus tickets? “No,” I say, “but maybe we got some back at Nightwatch. Sometimes people give us some that aren’t restricted.”

I’m standing there in the cold night air, a drop of water dripping down my back every so often.

Give her your Orca card.  Okay, that’s good. Here’s my bus pass – it has about $35 on it. You can get to work and back for a week with that. That problem is solved.

Write down what’s going on with your teeth and I’ll check with my dentist. Maybe she can do something for you.

I can’t imagine living in a tent. I can’t imagine commuting from the suburbs for an entry level job. I can’t imagine living with tooth pain without an end in sight.

But, dang it. I can do something about the commute problem. Dental work and housing are next.