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, October 26, 2009

Some sort of record?

Brother Dave & I parked the car in White Center, took about 10 steps on the sidewalk, if that.

"HEYYY! Are you ministers?" a woman asked. "Would you pray for me?" Sure.

She starts yelling at her friends, loitering outside a tavern. "Come over here, you need prayer!" One guy joined us, she kept yelling. "We need all the prayer we can get, come on," but there were no more takers. So we held hands, the four of us, and asked for God's strength and grace and healing.

It had to be some sort of a record for Operation Nightwatch -- 10 seconds from parking the car to responding to someone on the street.

I'm gonna need a stopwatch from now on.

Friday, October 09, 2009

My boring life

People make a big deal over Nightwatch and I get a bunch of unwarranted credit for the “exotic,” when actually it is pretty mundane.

Take last night. I met a new catholic deacon at our shelter dispatch point. Volunteers were cooking dinner for our homeless friends. The Dick’s Burger guy arrived. I visited Tent City, bringing twenty-five bucks worth of Oreos (probably the best thing I did all day, had no idea these would be so popular). Successfully found protesters sleeping outside city council person Bruce Harrell’s home, where he was holding forth in dialog with about a dozen of the folks. It was 10:00 pm. From here I stopped at one of my favorite bars, where one patron presented me with a bag of donations: razors, candy, an editorial they liked. Another patron tried to give me cash – which I turned down. I mean, taking a $100 bill in a bar just seems bad form to me.

The Oreos were the high point, along with the bartender paying for my refreshment himself. Wouldn’t even give me change so I could leave a tip.

Back at the ranch at midnight, turns out we had a good night. Everyone was civil and only three guys had no place to go. Out of 179 homeless men and women served, not too shabby.

Yep. Boring.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Tent City in Providence shut down

Providence (n): Divine guidance or care; God, conceived as the power guiding and sustaining human destiny.

Ironic, but apparently the city fathers of Providence, Rhode Island feel as though they have no role in care for homeless people. They ordered the closure of a tent city which was erected on private land, because the tents did not meet local building codes. In the words of other well-known New Englanders: BoooOOOOo-gus. Better for homeless people to be unregulated, under a bridge?

Read more.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Promote the general welfare

OK, so now that Terminal 107 is safely back in the hands of the Port of Seattle, I think it's only fair to ask the port commissioners what they are going to do with the space, since they've spent thousands of public dollars to evict people who have no place to go.

Night before last, Operation Nightwatch turned away 25 men because every shelter in town was full. Those guys took a blanket and headed to Belltown, Pioneer Square, Beacon Hill, Ballard, Capitol Hill. It would have been nice to offer an alternative to sleeping under the freeway.

But now that the Port has safely protected the public at great public expense, perhaps they could divulge their plan for that little patch of public land.

Tell us, Port. How are YOU going to "promote the general welfare" with that property, now that you've kicked the poor people out?