INDULGE ME, PLEASE, AS I PUT A FACE ON homelessness, food, housing & health insecurity. This is one of many fine people with whom I dine, laugh, fear and hope at our soup kitchen, barber shop, food pantry and other places. With sincerity, I proclaim that I am a better person for having known and interacted with persons such as this man.
FORGIVE ME, PLEASE, AS I STRUGGLE with resentment at the many people who call and write to me at the Congregational Church of Patchogue ~ demanding that I remove the “homeless, drug-addicted, dirtbag creatures” that we feed, shower, clothe and offer free haircuts to on a regular basis. Such comments, calls and letters are not surprising.
Housing, health, love, and food-insecure people ~ I have witnessed for years ~ are apparently not even worthy of a smile or utterance of a “Good morning.” They simply do not even exist in the mind and eyes of many. When I recently petitioned leaders to place a portable toilet near our mobile shower unit; I was told that to do so “would encourage them to move to our town when we already have too many.” Can you imagine being “encouraged” to move to a community because it provided a good place to pee? How, then, do we interpret the outrage that someone is seen peeing in a bush? Last time I checked, peeing was not optional.
If we want to figure-out how we will be remembered ~ I bet a dirty dollar that it will not be by our cocktail parties and wit. It will not be by our illustrious watering holes. We will be remembered, as persons, community and country ~ by how we treated those among us who are in distress.
FINALLY ~ INDULGE ME, PLEASE, AS I THANK many of you for your small, large and in-between offerings to help us help others, year round, for 30 years and counting. While our efforts are certainly not “fun” or “profitable” ~ they are absolutely, profoundly and deeply rewarding.
May peace and other blessings be upon you,