I have a gripe today..I am sure I am in a judgmental, combative sort of mood but I am going to say these things anyway! Faith that Works has a partnership with Starbucks for the month of April where they have been kind enough to collect items for the homeless. On May 1 we will take these items, such as batteries, candles, and toiletries (all very needed when you are basically camping, without the luxury of Coleman equipment) to our friends in various homeless camps around St. Louis. The last two days Julianne (my trusted administrative assistant) and I, have visited at least half of the 13 stores partnering with us, to see what they have collected so far-well, let me tell you, not much! The employees have reported, in sort of an embarrassed way, that their customers do not seem very interested in the homeless. Last month local Starbucks stores collected items for injured animals and report that they had truckloads full of collected leashes, food, bowels, and even Blankets! Dogs and Cats need blankets? I'll tell ya who needs blankets! People- people living out in the cold..my dog never seems very cold to me. Okay-I am almost done, this is getting out of control, just can't stop myself..
Today, I visited Dawn. With her permission I am going to share a little about her. She has a son who was taken from her and now lives in Chicago. Dawn has a disability and receives $606.00 per month from the government because of her disability. She was living in one of the worst neighborhoods in St. Louis, where she witnessed daily crime right out her front door. Her rent started at $350, then went up and up, until it reached $600. Dawn was working-allowed to make up to $800 per month while on her disability-but then lost her job. After her rent going up, losing her job, she had no other choice but to take the little money she had left and buy a tent, moving to a place called Wulf Creek in downtown St. Louis. Wulf creek is one of four camps in Tent City, as locals call it.
I visit her each week, bringing necessities such as newspaper to start a fire for warmth and cooking. Batteries for her flashlight, and other random items she may need. She doesn't ask for much. Dawn enjoys sitting in my car, visiting-talking about life, relating her struggle to me and how she dreams of leaving Wulf Creek forever. She told me she wants to work and provide for herself. Like I said, she doesn't ask for much. Today I picked up 20 soda tab bracelets she made for us. We taught Dawn how to make these bracelets and supplied her with what she needed to make them-soda, or beer tabs, and elastic string. The supplies cost pennies and we sell them for $10. Today Sandy, (an action team member, from our Tuesday group) and I, had the great privilege of giving Dawn payment for her first set of bracelets she made. Dawn said this, "I never expected you to pay me, I was just doin it for you because you have helped me so much." She was honored to receive something she earned and says that's all she wants, an opportunity to provide for herself. We help her with small things-pointing her toward independence, a place where she will feel dignity. By the way- one of those four camps is named, Dignity Harbor. Isn't that what we all desire? To struggle with dignity- to stand on our own? Yes, we offer help, only to build a relationship and show those desiring a way out, how to get there.
Many organizations drop truckloads of things off to the homeless, is that what they need-10 sweatshirts? Or do they need us to care for their pain, and meet their need, not just a handout to alleviate our guilt? Charity is just that, charity, a way to give something to someone else so we can feel good about ourselves-meeting a need is different-it is knowing that person well enough and caring about them enough to do exactly what they need, not just what makes us feel better about our own selfish lifestyle. I find this Starbucks collection interesting..maybe hurting dogs are easier to love than broken people-why??? Are we afraid that could be us someday? Does it remind us of our own brokenness? Maybe too close to home? Are we awkward, because we don't know what to do, so we do nothing? The bottom line of all of this thinking is this-it's all about us. Selfishness seems like a disease in this country.
The photos below depict the soda tab bracelet you can purchase to help Dawn with her down payment on a place to live. This meets a specific need, and I hope you can help. Contact us to buy 1 or 10/ tell your friends, and give Dawn her dignity back. firstname.lastname@example.org