My Final Night on the Streets

After almost 4 years of hitting the streets about every Monday night, I have decided to hang the backpack up for a while.

As I reflect on the last night (this past Monday) and almost 4 years, I have come to realize that I have made friends with people that I would have never crossed paths with, it.  I think back to my first nights out on the streets and coming across a man that was quiet and wouldn’t give us his name.  Finally, after weeks of seeing him and showing some love, we got his name, Joshua.

I think back on all of the nights that I have spent with Drew and listening to his stories about his grand kids and his love for them.  He would be able to see them about every weekend as his daughter would bring them down to see him.  He would talk about the multiple church services that he went to the day before.  I think back on the night that I will never forget seeing Drew in the water and having the fire department pull him out of the river and then end up in ICU at St. Joe Hospital.

Papa Smurf will never be forgotten.  He was one that I will always remember with his white bushy beard and big belly.  He was on the streets for so many years at an old age, and then off the streets in his own apartment.

I reflect on the times that I have had with Dan, Michael, Brad, Curtis, and many more.  I will never forget these past four years and my friendships.  I think about the times that I have had with Bernard and Marcus sitting in the ‘spaceship’ just talking about their walks in life and what they learned in church the day before.  I will never forget the night and the smile that I saw on Bernard’s face when we were able to bring him a new pair of shoes.  I will never forget all of the nights that I would stand there talking sports with Marcus as he would listen to a basketball, baseball, or football game.  I would put him up against any person in sports trivia.

There are just too many memories that I can’t express in a blog post and these are just some that stand out.  I know that I will come across some of these guys again in this city, but I know that I will see most of them when we come to the Gates of Heaven as I know where their hearts are.  I know when I drive through the downtown streets of Fort Wayne, I will always remember all of our spots that I would see my friends that I have made over the years.  It has been a blessing to be a part of their lives, but better yet, they have made me appreciate life and what I have in my life when it comes to not only material things like a house, but also the spiritual life as well as I have been challenged over the years by some on the streets.

SOS will still continue on Monday nights, but I will be taking some time off as seasons change in life.  This will be my final post personally, but someone will be taking over the blog post.  I think of a song Moments by Emerson Drive and I will leave you with this.  I think it summarizes the last four years well.

Posted in Fort Wayne, homeless, S.O.S. | Tagged , | 11 Comments

A Cold Cold Night on the Streets

Last night was a bit frigid to say the least.  When we were ready to head out, it was about 10 degrees with negative wind chills.  I had no idea what to expect and was hoping NOT to see anyone on the streets last night.  With the cold temps, we decided to drive to our ‘hot spots’ where we new people stayed.

We first drove over to the park where Sally was serving her dinner and duds meal thinking that is the only place we would see anyone.  To our surprise, we did end up seeing about 10 guys there having a meal before settling in for the night in their different spots around town.  We handed out multiple pairs of thermal socks and went through about 2 packages of hand warmers.

We then drove over to one of the bridges where we have seen multiple guys at over the weeks.  Much to our surprise, there were a few under there all bundled up and ready for the night.  Again, thermal socks, hats, and hand warmers were the choice items last night along with some snacks.

We stopped over where our friends Bernard and Marcus stays and there were signs that they were going to be there for the night, so again, more thermal socks and hand warmers were left for them.

We ended our night stopping in a parking garage stairwell where our friend Duane has been staying on these cold nights.  He was all bundled up and sleeping soundly.  We didn’t wake him, but we did leave a bag of his favorites along with more socks and hand warmers for him.

A couple of guys have decided to admit they have a problem and checked themselves into the Rescue Mission program.  All we can do is hope that they stick with the program and kick their old habits.

Just throw a prayer up for these guys in the coming nights with the cold temps that are upon us.

Posted in Fort Wayne, homeless, S.O.S. | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Day 17: Care Packages

Reblog from Impact 52.

Day 17 of our 25 Days of Giving was all about the homeless.  We spent the evening walking the streets of the city with backpacks loaded with snacks, drink packets, and hand/foot warmers.  For two hours, we delivered the care packages to the locations these individuals call “home”.  We were in the park, in the woods along the river, and under bridges.  The experience was enjoyable, enlightening, and humbling.  The selfless acts of those living on the street always amazes us.  Under a bridge along the river a group of homeless individuals were settling in for the night.  Our only light was a small flashlight as we traveled across the rocks that lined the river.  The sounds of cars passing overhead echoed through the cement walls of their “home”.  We supplied each individual with hygiene supplies and our care packages.  The group asked us to join them in prayer.  There wish was to pray for the families of Newtown, Connecticut.  This group sleeps on a bed of rocks with a blanket, eats meals at a rescue mission, and struggles to stay warm and dry at night and they wanted to pray for others. Prayers for families who have suffered the loss of a child came before their own well-being.  A true definition of a selfless act.  It is always great to see our friends on the streets of Fort Wayne.  We were wet and cold when we finished our walk tonight.  We had the luxury of coming home to a warm, dry home.  Those on the streets do not.  It makes us think twice before we complain about little things.

Impact 52 homeless care packages

photo-36

Tomorrow we will take time to read to a child.  Actually, we will read to a second grade classroom.  There is no better experience.  Investing time to read to children always yields a huge return.  We hope that you will take some time and read to a child as well.

**You can read more about Impact 52 and their whole mission by clicking here.

Posted in Fort Wayne, homeless, S.O.S. | Leave a comment

Awesome Night

We had an awesome night on Monday night.  It started out stopping under a bridge and we had a sweet time with Drew for about 15 minutes.  We just talked about everyday stuff, how he was doing, and then had some prayer time with him.

We headed to the other side of the river and met another gentleman that we have never seen before.  He was a little shy to say the least and I think he was a little shocked of our offerings of different items to him.  We then stopped in Headwaters to see some of our other friends, and only saw Ramiro.  We had a short time with him and got him set up with some of his favorites.

We stopped under another bridge, and there were another 4 gentlemen getting ready to retire for the night.  One of them was fresh on the streets that night and had nothing.  We went back at the end of the night and got him a blanket for the night since he didn’t have one.

The highlight of the night came when we got to the park where Sally was for her dinner and duds dinner.  We had some time with different people that we see week in and week out.  We started talking with Michael and had a great conversation with him.  He then said, “come follow me.”  I asked him where he was going to take us, and he just kept saying trust me.  We did finally trust him and ended up in a new apartment that he had been in for the last 3 days and is there for good.  We have seen Michael on the streets for the last 3 years or so and even though he didn’t have much in there, he was proud to “have a roof over his head” and didn’t have to go through another winter in the cold.  Here is a man that is 61, and finally off the streets after years and years of hard living.

It was truly an awesome night.

Posted in Fort Wayne, homeless, S.O.S. | 1 Comment

The Weather is Turning

It’s been a while since I have posted anything just due to the busyness of every day life.  Last night was a chilly one as the weather is starting to turn and get cold at night.  We started our walk towards the parks as we have heard that there may be some new faces on the streets.  As we walked through Freimann Square, I saw a shadow under one of the trees.  As we approached him, I saw a familiar face, Dan.  He was just hanging out under the tree trying to stay warm.  He was a little at a loss of words last night, but we were able to spend a little time with him and pray with him as he is dealing with different things in his life.  He told us how he appreciated us and tells his mom all about us when he speaks with her on the phone.

As we were walking out of the park, we saw another familiar face sleeping on the bench.  We didn’t wake Drew, but we did leave him some of his favorites including his lemonade packets that he loves for his water bottle.

We stopped to see Balent where we have been seeing him over the last few weeks, but he didn’t want anything as he was hunkering down for the night.  We headed over towards Bernard and Marcus’ area and just Bernard was there.  He had one of the Christian stations on his radio and was just doing a little worship on his own before he was to settle down for the night.  We some short conversation and giving of his favorite items and batteries before we took off down the path.  As we turned around, our friend Ramiro was there.  He is such a joy to talk with.  He has got to be one of the happiest guys I know, even at the lowest part of his life.

We headed over toward the park where Sally serves her meals to the guys.  Not many were there when we got there since it is getting colder out and people are going to their ‘spots’ earlier in the night to settle down.  We did have some conversation with Mike.  He was in good spirits and ornery as always.  We talked and joked around with him before we got him set up with some of his favorites.

As we were walking back to our cars, we saw a man under a stairway.  We have never seen him before and he seemed a little taken back by what we were doing and very hesitant in taking anything.  He did end up taking some snacks and asked if we had any warmer clothes.  We didn’t have any with us at the time, but we did go back after we got to our cars and got him a few sweatshirts.

The one thing that people will ask is why we do this.  We all need friends.  These guys have their inner circles with each other, but the one thing that I believe they actually enjoy is being noticed and having friends outside their world.  They just want everyday conversation whether its politics, or what happened in yesterday’s football game.  That is what has been a blessing to myself.

Posted in Fort Wayne, homeless, S.O.S. | Tagged , | Leave a comment

A cool night on the streets

Last night was a great night for a walk in the park and on the streets of Fort Wayne to hang out with our friends that call living on a bench, under a bridge, or in the park home.  We ran into Bernard and Ramiro right off the bat.  They were just hanging out in the park chit chatting and having a blast.  Both of these guys are always so cheery whenever we see them.  We talked with them a little while and just hung out.

In the distance, we saw Dan sitting by himself which isn’t out of the norm as he likes to keep to himself.  Last week, he had to have a CT done to check on some seizures that he has been having.  He thought that they we increasing, but in reality, they are about the same.  He seemed to be in pretty good spirits and we just hung out with him for about a half hour just shooting the breeze with him.

As we were walking out of the park, we saw Nick, almost limping.  He had some shots in his back for some lumbar.  He said that his back was bruised and was probably going to go to the hospital.  He was in some major pain.  We prayed with him, gave him some food items and hygiene items, and was grateful as ever.

The other park where we normally hit was empty when we got there since Sally wasn’t out by the time we got there.  The whole group dispersed for the night to their different areas that they go to and call home.

We made a quick stop at the Salvation Army to hand out some of our hygiene items.  The time was short, but good with those guys.  They are all going through some tough times as they go through their recovery process.

We stopped and saw Duane on our way back to our cars.  Luckily, we were able to satisfy his sweet tooth that he has with some chocolate that we had especially for him.

We are reminded weekly why we are out there and that is to show some love and be friends with the guys.  Being homeless means being out on your own and a lot of loneliness comes along with that.  Yes, they have some of their friends that are out there on the streets with them, but they don’t have many friends from our world that we are a part of.  I would encourage everyone to acknowledge these people when you are out and about.  Don’t give them money, but go an extra step and spend a couple bucks at McDonalds and give them the bag.  So many just turn our heads the other way when we see a homeless person.  You don’t know their story and there is a reason they are all out there on the streets.

Posted in Fort Wayne, homeless, S.O.S., salvation army | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

3 Ministries, One Night, Equals an Awesome Night

Last night was a little different than previous nights and weeks.  Sally, who generously gives her time to the homeless on multiple night during the week, van broke down and she wasn’t able to serve her dinner as she always has on Monday nights.  She got her van back, but it was too late to make dinner for her “dinner and duds” time with our friends.  Knowing this early in the day, I threw out there that we may need some help and posted it on Facebook.  Then came Gina with a friend from their homeless ministry, The Blessed Portion Ministry, to chip in on Monday night.  They normally go out on Friday nights.

It was different than the other nights.  We got more time with some of our ‘core friends’ that are out there on the streets night after night.  We stopped in Freighmann to see our friend Dan.  He was there and we chatted with him a bit.  While digging through my backpack for him, he asked if I had a Mercedes in there, and I let him know that I would have a matchbox for him next week to fulfill that need.

As we headed over towards the park, we ran into our friend Mike.  He had just left the park, like a lot of others, when they found out that Sally wasn’t going to be there.  He was quite surprised to see Sally and Gina walking with us.  We had a great time with him and he was filling us in a little on what was going on out there on the streets.  There seems to be an uptick of violence out there.  There are a lot of fights and beatings on these guys so please keep them in your prayers.

We headed down the street and ran into Brad and Dan.  They were just hanging out on the curb chatting.  We sat there with them for about 20 or 30 minutes.  Dan had one heck of a shiner on his eye and was telling us his side of the story.  They also told us how the park cleared out after everyone got word there was no “dinner and duds” for the night.  It was a nice time just talking with them as there have been so many people in the area in previous Monday nights to have some one on one time with them and not get pulled every which direction.

We headed over to the Salvation Army, but it was a little too late by the time we got there. We had had so many long conversations, that we didn’t get there until after 10:00 which is lights out for them and they can’t make an announcement over the intercom to let everyone know that we were there.  Luckily, part of the other group that was walking already was there and was able to fill some of the needs.

We headed over to where Marcus, Bernard, and Josh were hanging out for the night.  I don’t think that I have ever seen anyone so excited about bug spray and a flash light.  Josh was thrilled to say the least.  He was like a kid on Christmas showing us how it was LED and how bright it was.  We had some laughs and the time with them was good.

Please go like the Blessed Portion Facebook page.  They are out every Friday night and do very similar to what we do on our nights out on the town.  Gina posts updates as well at the end of her nights.  Also, if you haven’t liked our page, go do that as well.

Posted in Fort Wayne, homeless, S.O.S., salvation army | Tagged , , | Leave a comment