The troops: Kevin, Ricardo, Gabriel, Bethany
The neighborhood: Civic CenterLaurie was home tonight with a headache, but she brought over supplies for sandwiches anyway ahead of time – she is one dedicated lady! The guys and I made the sandwiches – mysteriously, it took much longer than usual, especially the peanut butter/jelly construction. I made a comment later to Kristin & Monica later about how we know who the fast prep people aren’t. They thought it was hilarious that I was just realizing this.
We carpooled to the Civic Center and decided to start with the big group at UN Plaza. We had enough hot chocolate & sandwiches for everyone there, but barely.
H. was there and looked much better than last time we saw her – it turns out that she’d been in jail for 6 months, which means she’d been clean for that long. As I was speaking with someone else, a guy sat down right next to us and shot up – this was H’s group. I knew she’d be doing the same shortly, but it was good to meet up with her, remind that she’s loved, give her yet another card and tell her again to call if she has an emergency, or just wants to talk or hang out. We met her on her first night on the streets. After 3 years, she looks at least 10 years older.
People who asked for prayer:
-Amy: alcoholism, constant theft of her stuff
-Brian: severe leg pain and depression
-Also pray for H. and a lady with no supplies sleeping on the concrete who wouldn’t accept a blanket because she wouldn’t be able to carry it around with her.
Sorry, haven’t been blogging for a while. It has been a busy year for all of us so far, with some of us starting other ministries/projects, grad school, new jobs, etc.
This week we had an extra opportunity to help someone in an unexpected way. Walking to Lighthouse (www.sflighthouse.org) to open up for Meals on Heels, I met Michael sitting on the stairs a few buildings away. Michael is a 60-year-old homeless vet who was hit by a car last week in the Tenderloin area and then mugged while waiting for the ambulance. His wallet is gone. His glasses are gone. His full dentures are gone.
He had been released from the hospital 2 days earlier but had nowhere to go. He also had a severe GI problem and had soiled himself repeatedly. He was desperate. He asked me if I happened to have an extra blanket and maybe some socks. He had come to the right place!
I was feeling a little bad because all we had left were super girlie blankets – literally pink with hearts and ponies, made for children – but when I opened our storage closet, I found that someone had left a donation of a plush solid green blanket. I grabbed that and some food and toiletries and took them to Michael, but what he needed most was a safe place to sleep and shower for the night.
This is when I got to see our team do what they do best – sharing what God has given us with people in need and loving them when they have no one else in the world. One of us reserved and paid for a motel room and went with him to get him checked in. Meanwhile, another person began making some sandwiches for him to take on the road and another couple went shopping for a new set of basic clothes/necessities and we met up again at the motel. Michael said that we were saving his life that night.
The rest of the night went well. We were able to meet with several of our “regulars” and share with them, and we even ran into with a big ministry group who comes in once a month from the far reaches of the Bay Area and beyond to give out food and clothes at UN Plaza. They were really caring, sincere people.
Confession: we saw them all standing on the corner as we drove up and planned to skirt by and into a different neighborhood because it seemed we weren’t needed there that night. Their group was double or even triple the size of ours (n=5). But after visiting Mr. Davis and a couple of other friends, when we got to their corner, they had just run out of food as someone came up asking for some. And there we were with new supplies. Basically, I got schooled in that moment. God will let me know whether we’re needed or not somewhere – it’s not for me to think I’ve got it figured out. It just reminded me of the need to constantly listen to the Spirit while we’re out there – it’s the reason we pray for an hour before we go! Anyway, it was inspiring, and awesome to see other people spreading the love.
The next morning, some of us picked up Mr. Davis and took him to his favorite place for brunch – he had asked us to celebrate his mother’s birthday with him, as the only “family” he has. She passed away quite a while ago – 1996, I think - but her loss is very painful to him and this year he wanted to do something special to mourn it and also celebrate her life.
In the midst of brunch, I had to step out for a while because Michael called. He had been up sick all night, so I drove him to the emergency room at St. Francis. I’ll update as soon as I hear the outcome. I still have one of his bags in my car, and he planned to get in touch when he was out.
As we drove Mr. Davis to his favorite weekend hangout place (AT&T Park) after brunch, he told K & me how much he’d enjoyed it. “Nobody else in my life would have done something like this with me. You’ll never know how much it means.”
There will be no Meals on Heels tonight. We’ll resume as usual next Friday. Happy new year, everybody!
This Friday, December 23rd, doors open at 7:00pm for an hour of prayer and reflection by candlelight, followed by distribution of food and warm clothing in the Civic Center area.
SF Meals on Heels would like to thank everyone who made the Golden Gate Park Christmas Party a success. We celebrated Christ’s birth and the love he taught us with home-cooked food and gifts for all in attendance.
Thank you in particular to –
-Kimo Uila for speaking
-All the volunteers who wrapped, organized, served, set up, cleaned up, and connected with those who attended
-The cooks who put their hearts & hands into preparing huge amounts of delicious food
-The many generous individuals who donated, as well as Stanford Management Company, Whole Foods and Sports Basement
-The San Francisco Lighthouse Beloved Communities and individuals who made this their holiday service project
-SF Meals on Heels regular volunteers for their constancy and delight in service
-Those who serve at Golden Gate Park every week, rain or shine
-Anahit Feroyan, founder of the Golden Gate Park ministry and dear friend to so many who live in the park, for lovingly pursuing the vision God gave her
We wish you all a great Christmas and a new year full of love and blessings.
Let Love Rule,
SF Meals on Heels
The team: Tanya, Laurie, Gabriel, Kristin, Bethany, Gabriela, Olivier, Gus (met up with us in the TL later after playing a concert)
The neighborhood: Tenderloin (TL)
To share: Hot chocolate, pb&j sandwiches by Gabriela, crackers, cookies, Muscle Milk, beanies, & 1 blanket
Well, we started out heading for the Civic Center, but there was no parking, and we had missed being in the TL for a couple of weeks anyway, so we were happy to drive over there instead. It was the first of the month, which always means a wild time because a lot of people have just gotten paid.
We said hi to Tanya’s husband George who works by the parking garage we always use. He was one of the earliest volunteers. He & Gus started out going to the TL with just some cups and a thermos of coffee.
We walked toward Ellis first this time to make sure we had plenty for the people who sleep there. Sometimes by the time we have gone along Eddy we’re low on supplies when we get to them. We distributed what we had. One man, Torry, asked that we pray for him every day this week. I promised him we would. [Reminder - if you want to be added to the list of prayer requests like Torry's, go to sfmealsonheels.org/needs.html]
One man said, “You guys must have known somehow that I was lying here hungry.”
On the way back to the cars, someone recognized Gus & Gabriel and stopped them. They had prayed with him a while ago and he wanted them to know he’s doing much better.