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.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

It gets personal

Twice in the last month I've run into people who are friends of mine. They are guys who have celebrated holidays at my house, volunteered at Nightwatch, ate lunch with me numerous times.

When I encountered them in their new situation, it was shocking. Immediately, my anxiety level went up. I find myself fretting about how we can help them.

One needs medical attention, but has to agree to it. The other could easily live in my basement, if I already didn't have someone there.

When homelessness hits close to home like this, it really changes our perspective. And, of course, when it happens to you. . . yikes. I'm told it changes you forever.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Stereotypes? Nope.

Two weeks ago I returned from my Thursday night rounds, visiting homeless camps and shelters. It was about ten to midnight. At Nightwatch, all the homeless guests were fed and sent off to shelter. There was one last guy – a young man – sitting at one of the tables, pouring over a math textbook. He’s doing algebra problems. He cackles as he figures one out.

I’ve been working with homeless people for more than 30 years. This was a first for me. Who does algebra at midnight? Of course, I had to ask about it.

The young man responded to me. “I’m planning to transfer from Seattle Central to the UW next year. I found out I can study math on my own, take the test, and then I don’t have to pay for the class, but I get the credit.”

And with that, he closed his book, and walked off into the night, going to a nearby shelter funded by Operation Nightwatch donors.  He will sleep in a crowded room with 74 other men.