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, August 25, 2014

Looking for a home

We’ve got the mats, the blankets, and the staff. But we are looking for a home. A place, overnight, where 80 guys, properly supervised, can collapse for the night, and try to get a new start in the morning.

For many years our  generous hosts have let us use their space overnight. This is coming to an end at the end of December.  We have to move.

This is what homeless people go through on a personal level, only worse. 

“Maybe a friend will let us stay.”   “Maybe we can double up with another non-profit.” “Maybe there will be a dramatic last-minute rescue.”

Then the somber adults start to ask questions. “What can you afford?” The answer is, not that much. Not in today’s over-heated real-estate market in Seattle. “You need to put together a funding proposal.” I looked with despair at the government forms, with unanswerable questions.  

I think about the fragility of life on the edge, which describes all 80 of our homeless friends who sleep in this shelter. For people with mental health issues, these changes are overwhelming. When you have nothing, and then even that is threatened, it can have dire consequences.

There are buildings out there. If you can buy us one, now would be the time. About 3,000 square feet would be nice. 

Prayers - and ideas - appreciated.

Monday, August 11, 2014


It was a single stroke of genius,
an oasis in a desert of a bungled day
when I decided
should be given to heat-afflicted homeless people.

Deacon Frank and I paraded around
a homeless camp,
no Pied Piper needed,
no out-of-tune tinny music on an endless loop
like the summertime daily attraction of my childhood.

Our homeless friends found us in all our abundance,
dishing out one here, two there,
and the numbers grew, another and another
and then the wave broke.
We stood around, finally,
talking survival, clutching our
thawing boxes,
happy homeless friends with
chocolate running down,
chocolaty lips smacking,
the delicate savoring
of the stick.

As we left, we offered the remains,
and found reluctant takers
one here, one there.
The last one offered is declined.
“I’m fudged out!”
and we laughed together.

It is as it should be for all of us at times.
That abundance.
You may not have a roof over your head,
you may be overwhelmed with life
you may have a really crappy day,
but then