In my contacts with the homeless that frequent St. Alban’s, it often seems that we are not making any appreciable difference in their lives; that we are only feeding them, necessary as that may be. But every now and then there is a flash that says something more can happen. Such a moment occurred last week.
I was placing our bi-weekly order with Giant’s Peapod service for the bread, lunchmeat, raisins and other items that our Grate Patrol uses to make 100 or so bag lunches for homeless persons living on the street. After placing the order, I always call Peapod’s customer service number to ask them to alert their warehouse about the large quantities in our order, such as 15 loaves of bread and 25 six-packs of raisins. I’ve found I have to do that or we get short-shipped. When I called last week my call was taken by a woman I’ll call Jane. As we were about to ring off, I thought to tell her the purpose of the items I was ordering, meals for homeless people. She said, “O Thank you for doing that. That was me a year ago.” I said “It’s wonderful that you were able to come out of that situation. I know it is really hard to do.” And she said, “Yes, it is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I couldn’t have done it without you”, meaning not me or even St. Alban’s specifically, for she might have been in a call center anywhere in the country, but meaning the collective effort of churches everywhere. She said further that it had made her a stronger and kinder person.
So, St. Albanites, feel good about your outreach work, and keep it up. It matters, and can sometimes make a life-changing difference.
“Let not the needy, O Lord, be forgotten; Nor the hope of the poor be taken away.”
Ron Hicks, Parish Verger, St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Washington DC, 24-February-2015