Friday, January 2, 2015
A New Year and a Fresh Start
It has been several months since I last posted, but the new year is an opportunity to make a fresh start. It is 1:00 A.M. and I am staffing the local warming station with another volunteer. It was 17 degrees at midnight when I drove by the big temperature sign at the bank on my way here. When the temperature gets below freezing, our community opens a storefront where homeless people can spend the night. There are five "guests" sleeping soundly on mats at the other end of the room. It's not a solution to the problem of homelessness, only a short-term measure on the worse days of winter
It's easy for me to volunteer here. During the late shift from 12:30 to 4:00 everyone is usually asleep and my anti-social tendencies aren't challenged. Last week I worked the 7:00 to 12:30 shift and had to interact with the guests until lights out at 10:00. I worried before I worked that night, but it was uneventful. I even knew one of the guests from my teaching days. We don't pry into their lives, but some share their stories. Our job is to treat them with respect while they are here and offer the few comforts we have available...snacks, hot coffee, and a sleeping mat with clean sheets and a blanket.
At the end of my shift I go home humbled and grateful for my many blessings. The warming shelter closes at 7:00 A.M. and our guests will be back on the street. It will still be below freezing.