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.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Imagine a single mother with six kids being cared for in room full of these guys.

Bad idea.

We aren't crazy about the change, but what else could we do?

No More Families at Nightwatch


I worked two nights as the shelter dispatcher at 14th and Main, which meant shipping homeless people off for shelter.

On Tuesday night, about 15 minutes before the hordes descended, some social worker showed up with a mom who spoke no English, and six little kids. I grabbed the SWer and told him he couldn't dump his people off anymore -- he had to take the family to the hotel. He wanted a letter to prove that they were homeless too, which was a pain. Anyway, he stuck around while I registered the family, then they left. About twenty minutes later I got a call, right in the middle of the crush of people -- another family, could they come for help? I told them no. They need to be on time (formerly no later than 8:30). Anyway, a second social worker appeared to tell me she had another family in the car. I turned her away too (I suspect it was the same lady).

What the heck is going on? I think they are using our voucher system to establish homelessness for the families, then going to social and health services to get aid and transitional housing; none of these families look like they are in distress, no luggage or belongings, not even anxious about anything. We are all suspicious.

Besides, this is not a safe environment for kids. Bringing in 6 - 10 kids into a room full of unscreened single adult homeless men is not good. So until we figure it out:


Sad but true. Call me if you got an opinion on it (206) 323-4359 or email of course


Friday, June 23, 2006

This one's for Jen

Jen, you just gotta wait for Friday when we update!

Yeah, things get a li'l dicey in the summer, missed a week on the street. I hate that.

Out tonight with Pastor Dave. Powered through a dead night at Dravus Street -- drank coffee (thus I'm flying at 1:00 a.m.) When we walked in, we became the only customers, but it soon changed.

Milk Maid was happy to see us.

Dave won $51 with pull tabs, paid for pool, tipped the bar, and had a good conversation. But we soon moved on.

Downtown at 3rd and Bell we ran into "Colleen" who was full of the Holy Ghost and Pabst. She described at length her conversion and the work of Victory Outreach. She relapsed, but "at least I'm not using dope." We walked her to Angelines, I gave her a Nightwatch business card and promised to go see her pastor.

Back at headquarters I found a room full of homeless women waiting for the mat that would never come. The city is void of women's shelter. We're trying to get something going. Right now we have nothing but hope and a handshake -- waiting for people to come back from vacation and give the okay. Maybe in two weeks? Is that impossible?

A small shelter for 15 women is going to cost about $10,000 a month. Hard to believe, and that is with free location -- no rent. But think about it -- two workers overnight, 10 hour shifts, 31 days a month x 20/hours a day -- 620 hours x $14 hour with the benefits. The rest is supplies and supervision an hour a day.

Gotta do it. Looking into the face of those women tonight almost killed me.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Locked In

Alone tonight.

Dravus Street bar was locked. I tried the front door. I tried the side door. Nothing. I looked in the window. Hey. There's people in there! Finally they sent a big guy out to get me. The place is locked up tight with people listening to music, drinking, talking. And now I'm locked in with them.

Apparently there was some excitement tonight. Some boyfriend cussed them out, left, came back, assaulted his girlfriend, or tried to. He wasn't a very good aim with a pool ball, it missed her, but it had enough velocity to do some serious damage. It scared everybody except the girlfriend.

Me and the other guy who missed all the fun decided to play pool. What do you know -- I won!

As a consolation, I gave "Cheese" a ride home. He said he would come back some Thursday. He's Roman Catholic (not that there's anything wrong with that). I was clear about my affiliation, but he was still interested in talk
ing. In fact, he didn't realize I was a minister until we left the bar to get into the car.

Nothing much the rest of the night, but 3rd and Bell was closed at 11:15 when I got there. Earlier time? or are we just running late?

Have a lovely sleep, princess.


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Sin Boldly

Father Kim & I brought Shawn with us for his first night out.

It seemed like an average night -- could have easily stayed for hours at MFQAT. There wasn't much shaking at Dravus Street bar in the Interbay neighborhood. It really is a Jekyll & Hyde sort of place -- more Hyde than Jekyll too. It was pretty dead. Did not stay long.

On to My Favorite Queen Anne Tavern. Talked Jazz with Red -- aspiring tenor sax. Lumberjack told the story again about telling his dad he didn't like Olympia beer when he was nine years old. "What kind of beer DO you like?" his dad asked. He drinks Pabst now, $2 I think. Saw the couple I'd been missing; figured out we were coming later to MFQAT since the reopening because of adding the Dravus Street place, which is why we haven't seen them. They head in relatively early. "ER" fans is what they told me a long time ago. I think they're the only people to quote Luther back at me: "Sin boldly and love more boldly still." I may not be right about the quote -- the bain of being a minister in a bar is the pressure to be knowledgable about everything from the history of the Crusades, pop culture, theology, to Agnus Dei and the Illuminati. Invariably someone will catch me in my ignorance (I'm pretty out there about it, actually) and give me the old "You call yourself a minister and you don't even know about the Knights of Pythias" routine.

Social worker Joe Martin at Pike Market Medical Clinic is a great advocate for homeless people.

Downtown was pretty wacked, this being the first of the month and some people had too much money, lots of action on the street. D. in the bar decided he'd had enough, and started closing about 11:00. Shawn learned that there is an art to disengaging with a drunk who is drunk and or high. Gave DaNang and friend a ride back to his place, finally getting the drunk to leave us alone. Not sure what he was angling for -- but we weren't going to give him money, gave him advise about finding shelter for the night -- DESC is pretty vacant tonight. He was sceptical about walking in, but I had a car full and wasn't interested in hauling him back to Nightwatch.

Ended up being a later night than I thought it would be. After the friendly banter with DaNang I thought I better remind him that I love him. He has a good heart. Lousy brain, but good heart.