As we leave our neighborhood, the road we use crosses under an overpass about two miles or so from our home. As the children grew and began to pay attention to the passing scenery, they noticed that the area at the top of the embankment, just under that overpass, was littered with the miscellany of nomadic life. This discovery sparked many discussions about homelessness - what is it and who does it affect?
Several years ago, we discovered PORT - a church-and-city supported mission that runs from late fall through early spring each year in order to provide shelter for our area's homeless. What makes this program so very awesome, in my opinion, is the participation of various area churches. It's not run by the Methodists or the Lutherans, by the Catholics or the Jewish people....it's simply run by the people of God. Each participating church takes one week of the season to provide dinner, shelter, beds, and breakfast. This week has been Our Lady of Mount Carmel's turn, and volunteers were needed to assist with check-in, dinner prep/ serve, overnight chaperones, and breakfast prep/ serve. Earlier in the week, Classic Rock was able to serve dinner with the Youth Group and he returned to share great news with our family...
"Guess what?! This year, there are only two children and they are teens."
Wait! That's good news? To have children there?
Sadly, that was really good news. Last year, Mr. Neoclassic, Classic Rock and Zydeco (who was underage for volunteering, but demanded to go anyway) served breakfast one morning. Zydeco eyes were really opened that morning when he helped serve food to some children his age. Actually, more than just "some", as there were three or four families with children there.
The boys were also quick to share what they learned about some of our area's homeless. Many have day jobs, but life circumstances didn't allow for their regular pay to extend to an apartment or vehicle. Several opted to live a nomadic existence in order to send their wages to a family member whom they felt needed it more desperately. Mr. Neoclassic told of a gentleman dressed in his suit and tie, ready for his day at work, but having to use the homeless shelter. I think a new respect for a generally ill-thought-of-population was gained that morning. They also gained a better understanding of our call to Feed the Hungry.
Here are the "boys" as they left at 4 this morning, with hot muffins in hand for their own breakfast, to serve others. As I stumbled back to bed for one the extra hour of sleep after seeing them off, I realized that for the last two years I've watched them go out and be the hands and feet of God. But I haven't. So, I will be volunteering next time. It's time I stepped up, too.
Have a great day and try to make a difference in a life today. Even if it's just for a member of your family. Actually, especially for a member of your family!