Seattle

Food poisoning hits… and you live in a tent

Imagine being sick while you’re living in a homeless encampment. You’re in a tent. You have limited access to running water, and a pit toilet. And then you are hit with food poisoning. Without getting too graphic, the usual things happen. Only, you’re in a tent. We showed up at a homeless camp, and this was one of several tales of woe, all health-care related. Besides the food poisoning incident, two of the 35 campers were in the hospital. One…

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Homeless and healthcare

Danny slept outside the door of Nightwatch, while getting treatment for brain cancer. This week, I met Miles. He spends three days a week on dialysis. He sleeps in a tent. Dirk had all the usual aches and pains of a 73-year-old. These were amplified by having to sleep on a mat in a room with a bunch of other guys. The few times I’ve been laid low by surgery or illness – I’ve been in my own bed, with…

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Rescued

Over the weekend, I spent time in the Nightwatch shelter doing some minor renovation with a long-time volunteer. Everything about the job went better than expected. In other words, it was not an all-day ordeal. I went home and collapsed in a heap. It’s been awhile since I’ve exerted myself physically, and I’m not 40 anymore! The heat didn’t help. About 8:30 that night I roused myself and suggested to the wife that we should go get a little pampering…

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Modern day leper

I placed my pizza order. We take pizzas with us when we visit the camps and shelters, and so we have to call ahead to have everything ready. When I was done placing my order, the helpful person on the other end of the phone said, “Is this Pastor Rick?” “Yes, who is this?” “This is Barney. I used to be in a camp you guys helped. Now I’m working here.” Isn’t that great? When I got to the restaurant…

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Come inside

Come inside. We don’t care if you are addicted, mentally ill, or made dumb choices. Come inside. No one should have to sleep on city streets. Summer or winter Come inside. Lay your bones down and rest in peacefulness Knowing that tonight, you will be safe. Come inside. No college-kid will kick you here, No policeman will make you move, No property manager will cuss you out, Come inside. Soothe your troubled mind. You will be among friends. We will…

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Inconvenient

Apparently some folks in local government came to see one of the homeless programs after hours. It must have shook them. Some funding has been restored. It wasn’t our program, so I won’t name them. There’s something about looking into the faces of the people being served – old, physically worn, disabled, broken. This will clear bureaucratic fog, to meet some homeless people at 10:30 at night. Tell us what to tell homeless people at the end of the night…

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Move on

After my interaction last night with a homeless woman, I’m curious about what kind of society we want. Her husband is on dialysis. He lost his job because of this. Which means they lost their place to live. And so they wait. It will take several months to get any disability, and who in the world will rent to them with such limited income, and a black hole in their rental record? I have heard neighborhood people say, “If you…

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Saving a life

One evening out on Capitol Hill, we ran into a guy that I hadn’t seen in at least two years. He was happy to see us doing the same thing he remembered us doing. I was glad to know he was alive, and we spent some time catching up on where he had been the last couple years. He filled me in on the details and then got somber real quick. “You know Ben,” he said, “I still remember that…

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That smile!

I noticed a homeless guy last week. We were moving mats out of storage into a big rental truck, and something about it struck him funny. Maybe because we were a rag-tag group, and not the usual types for manual labor. I could tell we had struck a funny-bone moment, and said something to him. It was a pleasant exchange. Then he was back in a doorway this week. Not doing anything, not camping out. Just hanging. I said hi…

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Socks

One of my favorite things about being out on the street is when we hand someone a pair of socks, and they are so in need of a new pair, they immediately pull their shoes off and change them out, in between words of disbelief and gratitude. ‘55’ was no different. That was the name he gave us, not that one in particular, but a number. We continued chatting for a bit as he took his boot off. He pulled…

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August 13, 2018
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