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.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Today's favorite note

This note came in the mail today with a donation. Can you believe it?

Who finds $50?

Who, then, gives it away? Pretty awesome.

What a solemn responsibility, to use what we've been given wisely, to help people in need.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Listen to the cabbies

I walked a half-dozen young people through St. Martin de Porres Shelter last night while doing a “homeless tour.” I always check with staff, and try to avoid the fish-bowl problem – not wanting to put homeless people on display. But educating people is important for charity and advocacy. St. Martin’s is filled with “old” men. “Old” in homeless parlance is anyone over age 50. Apparently the interest was running both ways. As my group of lovely young people were leaving, there was a smattering of applause from the shelter residents.

Homeless people and home-d people. There is no difference. We need the same things. We need to tell our story. We need attention. We need to be treated with respect. And most of all, we need love.

So many of our homeless friends are ignored, or worse. All day long.

Four weeks ago I was in a car crash. I stopped at a light, it turned green, I turned left, and from out of nowhere, a pickup truck ran the red light. The woman truck driver jumped out of the car and started yelling at me. Was I crazy? I wondered.

But a lowly cab driver saw the whole thing. He yelled out his window to me: “She ran the light, she’s crazzzzy!!!!” (The full enthusiasm of the Ethiopian cab driver was such a delight, and can’t be captured in writing.)

It took almost three weeks for the cabbie’s testimony to get from one insurance company to another. No one was paying attention. Finally, today, someone paid attention. My car was towed to the repair shop after three weeks of sitting. The right person finally heard the cabbie’s story. Thank God.

That’s how it often is. We don’t pay much attention to the foreign voice, the inarticulate, the uneducated, the marginalized. The life of the city, of commerce, politics, the news, just sweeps on by. We’re all poorer for it.

Let’s pay attention to the cabbies, the homeless guy on the corner, the leper outside the gate.