I seem to be better at remembering names than I used to be. Every Friday, I hand out food and water to people who are homeless.
I have found I am good at learning one name or the other, and I work on last names. Because when I address those I know by Mr. or Ms., they are respected, and they accept it. So many names I know now. So many I don't. When I have to ask, I feel I am dissing them. Almost all forgive me, because they see I truly am apologetic.
After 8 months, sometimes they tell me a bit. Sometimes they don't. I am getting to know them and bits about them.
I have learned how to winter-proof a culvert on a cold night. I am learning the woods where some live for long periods. I am learning the records that keep many from starting over.
The soup kitchen where I volunteer has many volunteers. I am astonished that most don't want to meet the clientele, only work in the kitchen, provide support, raise funds for them. They find the homeless frightening. Actually, we have many with homes and short resources. We help those, too. A lot are in perfectly normal neighborhoods. We just help them stretch their resources.
And I have misspoken, because many of our voluntee4rs actually are homeless or near to it. They like working for their food. Not many places will let them work. Probably a third of the many volunteers are also "clients".
Walmart, Target, and others send goods. I like knowing that. Stuff, good stuff that is out of date ad otherwise would go to waste, come to the kitchen. Yesterday a volunteer was opining that this was the best place in the world to get fruit salad, because the stores send it at peak ripeness. So we serve the best. Munching on mine yesterday, I agree.
Be proud. Be aware that while 14 agencies are involved, all of us seek federal money in addition to local funds.
I think tea party voters want us to depend entirely on donations. I know government is a big other choice. I know our soup kitchen relies mostly on local funds. Some federal are
In the meantime,I am getting to know and respect people you see, but will never know. Unless you volunteer. I see my people all the time, every where.
Friends tell me restlessly, " Where are these homeless? I never see them."
And I chuckle a little. One just walked by.