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.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bob Riggle, Nightwatch volunteer

By now most folks in Seattle have seen this AP photo of Seattle couple Bob Riggle and Phyllis Macay.
Their tragic death at the hands of Somali pirates this week has made big news. So sad.
We heard about Bob's sailing prowess, and sense of adventure. But there's more to his life.
Bob Riggle was a Nightwatch volunteer for a very long time. Before Nightwatch had a kitchen, Bob was there, late at night, helping homeless people get a little sustenance, find a place to go, don a jacket against the cold weather.
In those days, Operation Nightwatch was working out of a few rooms in the old Seven Seas Hotel, a long flight of stairs above the Lusty Lady, on Seattle's First Avenue. Before the Seattle Art Museum and the gentrification of downtown, Nightwatch was out there, trying to do whatever was needed for people on the bottom. And Bob was there, caring for them, when it was really a rough place, in hellish conditions.
Without people like Bob, Nightwatch wouldn't be doing what we do now every night.
There was a lot more to the guy than sailing. Just thought you should know.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Things are better. I think.

Saw my old friend.
His life is better. I think
because he's got his own place.
A little room.
{jump} Sorry. Cockroach.
But really. Not much has changed.
He's more alone now.
And he doesn't want to be.
He wants to pray.
But not alone. He wants to pray with someone.
I can do that. Now I know where he is. We've got a plan.
Me. Him. God. And maybe the bug. It's all good.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Luck and Survival

With my bum ankle and everything, I've been staying closer to my desk this week, more than usual.

I just happened to be giving a tour of our building to a college student, and was out on the sidewalk, for a random minute.

It was just the right minute, for someone. A guy with a backpack stood there.

"I know I'm not supposed to be here until 9:00 pm. Is there anyway I can come back tonight and get in?" He was so polite, and trying to do the right thing.

I handed the guy my business card, and silently cursed the stupid processes we institute to manage our little lifeboat.

We can't let every homeless person just show up at our doors and get help. We tried that. The crowd overwhelmed our ability to respond. So we make newbies get a ticket from Bread of Life Mission or the Downtown Emergency Service Center. These are limited in number. We used to give our donors a little "Get into Nightwatch" card to give people on the street. We even had to stop that; the crush of needy people buried us.

To the homeless guy wandering around, dog-tired, I am so sorry. It sucks.

2,442 people without shelter. That sucks too.