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.

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Stop in Pueblo

Here's a story:

In 1997 I was fortunate enough to help my friend Herchel get off the street. The first thing he did: had me write a letter to Wayside Cross Mission in Pueblo. Herchel wanted me to thank them for helping him, many years ago.

For years, Herchel faithfully helped Operation Nightwatch in ways not noticed by many people. He was our gatekeeper; passing out numbered tickets so homeless guys didn't have to stand in line; mopped the floor; and later, when he moved into our apartment building, he picked up litter in the neighborhood, to keep us good with neighbors.

Herchel was a man of few words. He could barely read or write. He'd get excited and tell me things like "Saw a '57 Chevy." When he had a problem, and I couldn't understand him he would get mad. "F-ing B-S-" he would say, clear as a bell.

But despite the occasional blue language, he was a man at peace with the world. He knew his terminal disease could mean a miserable end. But his faith was an inspiration to me - and still is. Not very conventional, not churchy, but solid, real, meaningful, gritty stuff.

So, I am on vacation this week, traveling from Albuquerque to Denver. I had to pull off in Pueblo and find the "Wayside Cross Mission" and tell them the story of Herchel's life. And to thank them again for what they did for Herchel.

And for me.


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