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, 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.


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