Jason turns 39 next week. He has a 7 year old daughter who lives with her grandparents in Spain. Her name is Lucille and she is fond of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Jason worked as a security guard for years, but has an artistic vein in him. He once painted a full story mural.
Jason slept on the cold red bricks of Grafton Street last night.
David is from Lithuania. I told him that I had an ex-boyfriend named David, and he quickly let me know that unfortunately he was off the market, but if not I would totally be on his radar. We offered him some gloves but he told us to give them to someone else who needs them more since he had some already.
We didn’t stop to talk to Jack since he told us he had already been setup for the night. And let me tell you he had the hook up. Fluffy sleeping bag, small pillow, hot tea, book at the ready. He had a huge smile on his face and wished us well. As we walked along the ladies told me that he had been around for years. This past Christmas he wrote them all Christmas cards.
These are some of the people had the pleasure of meeting last night on the Simon Community’s nightly soup run. It’s basically exactly what it sounds like, groups of 2 or 3 will run routes through the city and offer up soup, tea, sandwiches, and biscuits. They also bring along some warm clothes and ponchos if it’s raining. They do this every night, all 365 days of the year.
I was struck by the sense of community not only amongst the homeless, but between the Simon’s volunteers and their usual soup customers. You know all of us gossip! Teardrop John hasn’t been heard much from since his best friend overdosed. Shamrock John however, is still around. Crabby Christie is just as crabby as ever and Sam just got back with the ex-girlfriend.
Of course it wasn’t all candy and rainbows. We came across a trio that included a pretty strung out woman who kept saying “where’s my baby gone” over and over; a man who was extremely unhappy with us for not having a more masculine pair of gloves, and a woman who vented about her drug addiction, which she was anything but ashamed of, and how she couldn’t get healthcare for her infection because of her label of “drug addict”. Little comments like hers raise a lot of social and political questions. Shouldn’t everyone have access to basic healthcare? But what if that actively engage in illegal activity? What is considered “basic healthcare” anyways?
But just to put it into perspective for the folks back home: Simon’s community reported contact with 4,700 rough sleepers last year. In comparison, the 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report, guesstimates approximately 30,000 homeless in Texas (the 4th highest ranking state in the U.S). Now, these figures can’t totally be taken at face value because I don’t know how the U.S survey defined “homelessness”. But regardless, don’t think that inequality and homelessness is a “foreign problem” for “other countries”. We have a responsibility to confront this problem.
The homeless of America should not be ignored and shoved underneath the carpet. The people I had the pleasure of meeting last night deserve respect and a chance to escape the vicious circle of poverty.
Alright this blog has taken a turn for the soap box. There’s more I want to say, but I will save you the rant! You all know all you have to do is ask me and we can discuss further 😉
Side very Brooke-like mistake I made: I didn’t know where I was supposed to go when I arrived at Simon’s, so I just lined up with the guys waiting outside the door to be admitted for services. Met a Polish dude named Robert. He seemed cool. Told me I should bring him to America. By the time I realized I wasn’t supposed to line up with everyone else, I just figured I’d wait anyways. I mean I thought maybe all those guys were there to volunteer. Oh well. They were probably judging me hard.
So to recap:
Homelessness is a problem that should not be ignored.
People are people regardless of where they are sleeping at night.
People of all walks: the lawyer, the doctor , the addict, the prostitute, deserve respect.
Simon’s Community is badass.
If David seperates with his wife within the week, I have a perspective Valentine’s date.
Can’t wait to volunteer more with Simon’s Community!