Every night around 9pm before I start driving around to find homeless to assist, I say a small prayer: “…Lord thank you for these blessings to distribute, please put me in the path of those that I am in the best position to comfort…” and last Sunday He did just that.
After handing out hats, coats, blankets, medical supplies and non-perishable food items to about a dozen homeless within the Chicago Downtown Loop, I headed toward my apartment around Midnight. As I drove out of Lower Wacker towards Lake Shore Drive, I saw an older women clearly distressed, crying while sitting on a double stack of milk crates. I pulled over as usual and walked toward to her with my medical box in hand.
As I approached, she wiped her eyes and we started to converse about the matters at hand. “How are you doing medically; are you hungry; and do you need any hygiene items.” Her name was Tina and she is 64 years old. Tina was in a fire four months ago; she lost her daughter and grandchild; and suffered burns over 80% of her body. As a result of the recent traumas and what I can assume to be long term mental illness, she has not been successful in any support programs and has been living on a patch of concrete for the last four months. She was happy to receive a new coat, some blankets and fresh under garments. I redressed some of her burns with fresh bandages that were showing signs of infection and left her with supplies to treat them of about another week.
As I was biding her goodbye, she started to cry again. In asking what was wrong, she whispered that she was scared, was fed up with getting rained on while sleeping and just wanted one night’s worth of peace. I asked what I might bring back with me on a subsequent visit; and she said she’s been praying for a tent to sleep in. She said that…”Mother Mary is hear’n me, I know. She’ll answer me, you’ll see.” With that said, I was dumbstruck. Although I had literally emptied my car, I had one item left… a one person tent.
As I walked back from the car, tent in hand, she dropped and started weeping. “…My Lord, my Lord, thank you, thank you…” she repeated over and over again, hands’ rose. As I setup the $17 Walmart tent underneath a building’s doorway, she started to relocate her humble belongings to her new tented dwelling. And as I was reconciling my emotions, it struck me that the more modest a person’s possessions the more of value they have. And in her context, this incremental improvement was a prayer answered.
I don’t often come to tears, but I couldn’t help but cry as I drove away. It’s not too often that I have the occasion to interact with someone on such a simple and sincere level. I pray that she does finally get a restful nights’ sleep and that our paths cross again.
Please know that everyone’s donations continue to make this humanitarian work possible. On behalf of everyone helped, including myself and Tina; thank you very much!