As the temperatures have plummeted throughout the week to threatening levels, the need for this homeless outreach has never been so clear. The distribution of blankets, tents, gloves, warmers, food and medical supplies have transcended incrementally improving the lives of the homeless toward the road of life saving exchanges. Matt, a 26yo homeless man of four years, sat and ate a frozen piece of pizza as we discussed what might be of most help. He was shockingly cheerful considering the situation while I could barely stand the cold. Matt took some Vaseline, hand warmers, gloves and non-perishable food items for the coming days. He planned to sleep on one of the L-Lines overnight to escape the cold.
I also took some extended time with Rodger, a 34yo man homeless for 2 years, as he had all of his belongs discarded the day before. It is not uncommon for a homeless person to come back to their bedroll at night only to find it complete gone. This left Rodger with literally nothing to protect himself from the elements. We quickly got him setup with a new coat, blankets, gloves and we went through needed medical supplies on my car’s trunk lid.
I’ve found this harmonization of the available donated supplies to homeless need to be faultless. As I continue my personal journey to spirituality, I’ve now recognized this as a pure example of Grace. John Stott remarked that, “Grace is the love that cares and stoops and rescues;” and I think that’s very fitting.
And once Rodger gathered all that he could carry, many more appeared from the dark corners of Lower Wacker asking for similar things. Although we didn’t have time to exchange names and pleasantries, there was a ringing desperation present as it continued to drop below -20 degrees. Over the next hour we served over fifty (50) people all needing warmth, food and medicines.
I’ve learned that not all help is incremental; but often service to others is life saving and in return I’ve received continued, hopeful salvation.
It’s clear that Grace changes everything for everyone involved. Myself while performing outreach to those fallen, my friends for the time and attention of their donations and the homeless who survive another day in the arctic conditions.
Thank you so much for everyone kind words and donations: Jean Grys, Annie Deutschmann, Jason Torres, Darryl Hom, Jim Eubanks, Tom Itschner, Janet Culkin, Cory Helmick, Julie McElwee, Amanda Winne Fritz, Stacey Smith Kelley, Jon Hill, Gloria Fangmeier, Gurneet Sagger, Ian Goldberg, Peggy Goldberg, Cindy Quiles, Tim Casady, Danell Culkin, Sharon Gates, Amy Orrick Hasty.