July 2016 Blog Update
Mid-Summer! and so far it’s on again/off again between Congress and Oxford streets and down Preble and all the side streets where Grace-Street Ministry works. First hot and humid is on then off, then dark and dank, then bright and clear.
When you’re comfortably housed and well transported, you just turn the ac on or off and it’s another good Maine summer of work and play and family, and maybe there’s a week at the beach in view. When you’re homeless and your transport is by foot, daytime you sweat, shiver, and pray for more depending on whether it’s hot and humid, dark and dank, or bright and clear. Nighttime you sleep in a crowded shelter or outdoors under a bridge or a doorway, in a park or an alley, or in the woods.
If you’ve chosen the wrong friends, there is one substance or another to numb your senses and suspend the despair you feel mounting inside you. If you’ve chosen well, you’ve at least got each other’s backs. Against what? against having everything you carry stolen, your wallet or purse and all your money and id and prescriptions; against assault, physical, sexual, psychological; against aloneness and vulnerability.
What do you have when you are homeless then? Nothing? Well no, not entirely. You have the hope and the fortitude, the faith and the friends you can muster. You have the multiple services offered by Preble Street: the Resource Center and Soup Kitchen; the men’s, women’s, families, and teen shelters; the allied Health centers; and the Amistad day shelter and lunchroom.
And you have three pastors from Grace-Street Ministry working a 52-week Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday schedule, and each of them sooner or later is going to say Hello? Need a pair of socks? Everything okay? Then they’re going to listen and, depending, ask something like Where’d you get that bruise? What’s your shoe size? Got a case worker? Great you got that job, bus pass help? 15$ cover the rental app? Want us to call the landlord? Can you cover that prescription? What about getting a GED? When’s your appointment at Mercy? How are you planning on getting back to North Carolina? Would a prayer help? A food card?
So yes, it’s hard, really hard when you’re homeless in America. But in Portland you are not alone. You have Preble Street and Grace-Street Ministry. Sincerest thanks to our individual supporters and church partners. We can do this.