Friday, December 21, 2012

NCompass 4th Annual Christmas Festival for the Homeless - Week 51




Here we are again. Full circle in 365 days. Last year at this time, volunteering at the Festival for the Homeless touched my heart in a way that nothing had before. I was so moved, so convicted, so wanting to do more for this hurting world. That feeling led to the biggest, most important New Year’s Resolution I’d ever made.



When I volunteered last December, those living on the street were foreign and intimidated me. The feelings I experienced were inward focused - I was nervous.

This year, even though I’d never met these people before, I felt as if I’d known them all year. Last Sunday, instead of focusing on my own apprehension, I was able to see those I helped. Really see.



When S. complained about her boots and didn’t want to miss out on a chance for better shoes because she waited in the clothing line, I took her to look at footwear choices and assured her I’d escort her into the clothes area when she was ready.



While I helped J. try to find a warm coat and gloves, he told me about his kids that he misses so much. He wasn’t crying, he explained, the rain must have gotten in his eyes.

No-one needs to see a side profile of me,
but I want a reminder of how I felt when I talked to J.

When Eastern European Dude got angry because we didn’t have a “new, waterproof, quilted, long coat” for him I started to get frustrated. Then I realized, this guy lives on the street. Whatever feeling he had at that moment was totally valid. 

Edd helping someone find the perfect coat.
Maybe not "perfect". Maybe just "good enough."


But my favorite, H., came through the line ready to shop. 

“I need men’s jeans but I’m a girl,” she lifted her cap to show her short spiked hair. “Are you sure you want men’s?” I inquired. She is so skinny.

“Yeah, yeah. I’m a lesbian. I need men’s clothes.” 

“Your sexual preference should have no bearing on poor style,” I advised. I found a pair of unisex looking jeans for her. 

I shopped with H. for about 30 minutes. While we limited most clothing items to 3 per person, we told everyone they could take as many t-shirts as they needed. She wanted to look at each, choosing the ones that had funny messages or finding two alike so she and her partner would match.

At the end of the afternoon, H. came back to find me. She thanked me for spending time with her, kissed my cheek, and gave me a heart charm to slip on a chain. I have no idea where she picked up that charm, but I can tell you that once I clean it up, I will wear it to remind me of the multitudes who don’t have a hot meal or a warm bed to sleep in each night.

I won't forget H.

NCompass has a heart for the homeless of Portland. If you’d like to be involved, comment below or "like" the Nature of a Servant Facebook page to be included on future serving opportunities.

A full holiday meal was served,
right down to the cranberry sauce.

The "sleeping bag" dudes. That's my hubby in the back.


All ages can help!

A family that serves together, stays together.
Or something like that.



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