My wife and I moved our homeless efforts to a mobile medical and outreach bus this week. It has afforded us the ability to offer advanced street medicine and carry more food, clothes and other life saving items. And as this bus is specifically built to help those who have fallen, it’s also becoming a symbol.
Such was the case for Larry, who had retreated to a hole within in a crumbling wall located by Canal and Washington. I was directed to him by his homeless friends. When I asked why he’s held up in such a remote ditch, they said that he’s gone there to die. He was sick, tired and had no hope.
When I found Larry, he was unwilling to get off the wet concrete. As we talked, he slowly began to inventory his ailments. He has MRSA, hepatitis and severe pneumonia. His arms and legs were also severely infected and eaten with abscesses. With each sickness revealed, I went to the bus and brought him some kind of relief. These incremental aids included antibiotics, bandages, food, blankets, et al. After an hour of friendship and service with Larry, he stood up and asked for hug. Crying, he said he didn’t want to end his life in this way. He said that if others could see worth in him, then he’d find dignity in himself. We relocated his bed roll to dry ground, away from the rats and close to others. I hope he continues to stand up every day and walk towards hope.
Later I met Brian, who was laying in a doorway by Van Buren and Ashland. His leg was amputated two weeks before and his wheel chair was stolen the previous night. He wanted to be left alone and admitted he saw death as a relief. By contrast, all the items that I had available to give, were only trivial to him. I had no success in helping him find dignity or a path to Joy in life. After another hour, he thanked me for the time; but asked to be left alone. His hollowed eyes, filled with tears, were haunting in their lack of hope.
In total, I saw about 200 homeless this past week…some in the process of standing up to live and others laying down to die. I’ll pray that they each find the peace they they’re searching for.