January 23, 2010
I'm in a new city, the largest homeless population I have seen to date. I have acquired a bed at one of the dozens of shelters, The staff are just the dearest people, they are very proactive about getting clients organized and into the right programs. I am fortunate again to be in a place that has beds... I was expecting a mat program. Mats would be very difficult to get up and down from because of my bad knee; I'm sure the day will come but, that is not one I'll be looking forward to.
Today I went out people watching... easily a couple of hundred (I'd guess) people, all shapes, sizes, colours and ages lining one side of about six blocks on the what amounts to skid row. As I proceeded along the street I met a young woman who ask for a cigarette... we chatted as I retrieved one from my purse. When I handed it to the poor child she almost started crying... I don't know if she was so very moved by the free smoke or by the fact that someone stopped to chat rather than walking by like she was invisible. Acknowledging someone's existence with a smile or a greeting seems like such a small thing; but it is in fact a rareity, coming from strangers, for people who are living on the streets. When I arrived late yesterday afternoon, the people were on the other side of the street. It will be interesting to find out if the shift is a daily occurrence and whether it is prompted by the position of the sun or the disposition of the merchants LOL.
On the return journey from my walk-about I stopped for lunch at a church soup kitchen. The company was very enjoyable and the small portions were certainly adequate for mid-day. Like other larger centers there are many venues offering meals so one need never go hungry. After lunch as I was walking back, I encounter a young girl (4-5 yrs) walking with her dad, he was carrying a box filled with art work the little one had made. She was walking down the street giving her drawings to the homeless people as they passed by. Everyone smiled and thanked her, carefully folding it and safely putting it in their pocket. I took my little drawing back the the shelter and taped on the wall beside my bed. I now have an original work of h'art.