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.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Hey, I'm ripping off someone else's blog stuff!

Pint-sized Hero
Posted today at 9:22 am by Rick Anderson
It was a packed Rainier Room at Seattle Center yesterday that honored Joe Martin, 55, the Boston-Irish social worker and Pike Market Clinic co-founder. He was named
Operation Nightwatch's 2006 Hero of the Homeless as relentless advocate for the poor and powerless. Two years ago, the Low Income Housing Institute similarly honored him, naming one of its Georgetown renovation develpments Martin Court. What does he do to deserve the accolades? His job. The other day, before we could go have a pint at Kells down the alley from the clinic, I waited as Joe checked his messages and found a scary plea from a man who was about to lose his home and was on the verge of suicide. In five minutes, Joe turned it around - calming the man with a social worker's grace, determing he couldn't legally be tossed into the street, and making an appointment to meet him and resolve the problem in the morning. Just another typical few minutes in Joe's 29 years of service to humanity. Among his crusades: dental care for the poor. Too many of his people, he pointedly says, "when they bite into a sandwich, they leave a tooth in it." He rails against wars and conservatives and plays the harmonica or bangs the bodrum for the Clay Pipe band. He also dilligently pursues a modest life: "If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at who he gives it to," he says. Martin recevied a memorable pre-St. Paddy's Day write-up in the Times this year, in which Rebecca Teagarden described him thusly: "At 5 feet tall, with rosy cheeks, sparkly blue eyes, wiry beard and tweed cap herding wild Irish hair, he looks the part of an honest-to-God leprechaun. There could not be a better one. Ornery, crafty, gentle, kind, long on wit and loud of song, he belts out a ballad and charms a crowd all for a frothy pint and a bit o' coin." To which his friends add: "May you be in heaven a half-hour before the devil knows you're dead." (See Ben Benschneider's honest-to-God leprechaun here).

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