homeless

Photo of street minister talking with man in a bar

Rest in peace, Norm Riggins

Rev. Norm Riggins was the original Nightwatch executive director. He started volunteering for Nightwatch, going out on the streets late at night, sometime in the late 1960s, early 1970s. He was pastor of the former Maple Leaf Evangelical Church, near Northgate in north Seattle. He was hired to be the first paid staff person for Nightwatch in 1976. He left a comfortable thriving church for the uncertain night time streets. Norm was the guy who recruited me to go on…

Read More

Balance

The art of balancing a life beset by odd angles of poverty, illness domestic violence bad brain chemistry poor nutrition lack of sleep humiliation, sorrow, PTSD, addiction, learning disabilities, social anxiety bad luck; It’s more than I could contend with. And it is understandable when the whole thing comes tumbling down. But God bless the artists in camp who set up a demonstration, keeping things in balance against all odds; God bless them for setting rock on rock even after…

Read More
Photo of black dog

Lost family member

Homeless people are attached to their pets, just like the rest of us. When a dog dies, the whole camp suffers. But what happens next is tragic. How can you properly dispose of the much-loved remains? Last night someone in a homeless camp asked me if I could help in any way with the cremation. “Let me find out. Call me in the morning.” I had to think about it. I got no idea what a cremation for a pet…

Read More

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, eaten 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…

Read More

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…

Read More

I didn’t look

I didn’t look. Stopped at the end of the freeway ramp, on my way, I didn’t look at the person standing by the side of the road with a sign. I didn’t see him, not at all. Not looking is second nature these days, when someone is asking for help by the side of the road. And so, I did not look. No need for the shrug, the nod, the single index finger lifted off the steering wheel or the…

Read More
Contact:
Latest Stories
September 6, 2019
Photo of homeless man smiling
August 19, 2019