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.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Nothing New

I love this time of year, it's really cold, people figure out homeless people must be cold too, and so we've been inundated with offers to help, most of which we can't do anything with; one guy said he has a group of 75 people coming this spring. . . what the heck can we do with that?

Sometimes with volunteers, it's about their experience of helping, not what the homeless people really need. We see it all the time -- really lousy sandwiches (you wouldn't eat them, I wouldn't eat them, yet we give them to homeless people because we can). The groups throw something together (they're HOMELESS for gosh sakes, why should they eat good stuff?). I'm talking stale bread, wafer thin meat, big glob of mayonnaise, big glob of mustard, and like maybe two pickles, and fake cheese.


We took socks and hats and Odwalla bars to Tent City 3 tonight. I'm consistently impressed with tent city folks, though there was a fracus while we there, nothing too awful. Someone was pretty juiced got loud. Handled well by those in charge.

White Center is still a lovely place to visit too, by the way. Why would the locals call it "Rat City?" I love the place.

OK, I've been backed up for awhile, look for bloggerhea here soon. R

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Mayor gets involved

Background: three weeks ago I got a phone call from Sr. Mary at Swedish. She's concerned about a local homeless woman with her three shopping carts of stuff. The lady doesn't seem interested in going in, but the weather is getting worse. Can I talk to her?

So I drive around first hill for 30 minutes, up and down nearly every street, no sign of her. Later in the week I see someone in line for dinner at St. James that may fit the bill, but couldn't stop.

Then three days ago she pops up in my neighborhood.

Today: Mayor's office calls the neighborhood worker Ted. Ted calls me (I guess I'm three phone calls removed from the Mayor. Not sure if that is good or not). I guess a neighbor was worried about the woman being warm enough.

So I go check her out.

This woman could withstand a blizzard. She has three shopping carts and a buggy full of stuff. Cardboard for insulation. Plastic tarps, blankets; plus she's layered up. She was pleased when I told her that the neighbors were concerned enough to call the mayor and that the mayor was concerned enough to call me. She wanted to know where the mayor's office was, in case she needed something.

Her dilemma is that the shelters won't let her stash her stuff. She isn't going to leave all the stuff or keep it with her even when she's in the shelter. She didn't seem opposed to going in for shelter, but at an impasse; without her survival stuff and personal goods she wouldn't go into shelter.

She knew about Nightwatch, knew where it is and all that. In fact she had a list of community resources that NW distributes. I encouraged her to go inside, gave her a new knit hat; we parted friends.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Hero of the Homeless Luncheon

Ok, Tuesday's the Big Event -- Hero of the Homeless Luncheon at the Seattle Center. We're honoring Mindy Shivers for taking on our women's shelter and getting 90 friends to help underwrite the thing. Amazing, a bunch of ladies playing Bunko, pass the hat, and voila! $10,000 in 2006, $40,000 in 2007.

We'll dish the details tomorrow night. If you haven't pre-registered, so sorry. We're full up. (See how it feels? Homeless people get turned away from shelter every day.)


Friday, November 16, 2007

Stormy Weather

Life is bare, gloom and misery everywhere

Stormy weather

Just cant get my poorself together,

I'm weary all the time

So weary all the time.
Billie Holiday says it all -- a stormy night in Seattle. Bad weather shelters are open, bars are pretty empty. Tent City residents were huddled like drowning rats.
Took Ben with me. We were cautioned not to poke at the tarp in the HQ tent -- but it was so tempting, a big bulge of water hanging right over our head.
Hit three bars -- no action at one, very slow in Rat City tonight. But we puts in our time and we will surely get to be known better there.
Good luck Father Kim with the Garage sale tomorrow. Sun will shine in my back yard someday.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Light bulbs needed

I keep waking up in the middle of the night, my brain on overdrive trying to figure out what's going to happen to us in 2008.

We've been serving about 150 men and women every night -- food, shelter assignment. It's been running alot smoother with full staffing, first time in about a dozen years.

So what happens when you remove shelter for 75 men?

Where/what are they supposed to do? Suddenly Operation Nightwatch is back to feeding and passing out blankets. Maybe we go on the road to do that -- I hate the idea of sending 50 guys or more out the door with no place to go. That's what got us into the shelter business to begin with.

Come on, strategic thinkers. Help us out.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Church Shelter

Churches as shelter space?

Tim Harris might think it's dealing too much with the symptoms of injustice.

That's his fight.

We're just anxious to get people through tonight so they can storm the Bastille some time in the future.

So, if you know of some 1/2 empty church basement within access of Operation Nightwatch, we're anxious to talk with you.

Let us say: staffed shelter for 25?


Hero of the Homeless Luncheon

Luncheon·Tuesday, November 20, 2007·12 noon to 1:00 pm
Seattle Center Rainier Room
Near the corner of 1st Avenue N. & Republican St.

What is a hero? Someone who doesn’t just stand on the side lines but jumps in and gets involved. That perfectly describes this year’s hero, Mindy Shivers.In addition to raising much-needed funding for a dedicated women’s shelter, you can help Nightwatch service another area of growing need: the working poor. Many homeless men and women actually work but do not make enough money to cover rent. For them, we provide a crucial safety net that gets them off the street and gives them a safe place to stay. Please join us for this inspiring luncheon and to find out how you can get involved.If you would like to attend please reply to this email. If you cannot attend and would like to donate, please click on this Nightwatch link.
Operation Nightwatch is dedicated to serving poor and homeless men and women.
We help people by providing emergency shelter, meals, and a ministry of presence on the street and low-income housing for seniors.
The services we offer are free of charge. We are funded primarily by contributions from individual donors and staffed by hundreds of volunteers.
Operation NightwatchPO Box 21181 • Seattle, WA 98111phone: 206.323.4359email: herohomeless2007@hotmail.com


Friends at Tent City

It's always interesting at Tent City 3. I meet the most amazing folks -- in transition, almost always hopeful, grateful for the goodies I bring.

Operation Nightwatch needs to support the brothers and sisters in Tent City 3.

Time to call Mother Mary.

If you want to help, email me. They need paper plates, cups, napkins, batteries, flashlights and other gear.