Last night I sat with a group of friends talking about the needs in our community.
There is a heroin crisis in our area. The children in our community are dying. There are tremendous social problems including poverty, unemployment, addiction, and mental health needs. There is a teenage pregnancy epidemic. Drugs and alcohol are everywhere. Most days we ignore the statistics, because they are big and wide and deep and we are just folks. So, we go about our lives and never really think about it.
But, collectively, we’ve been talking about these things. So, we reached out to those who are on the front lines. We invited folks in to teach us and to help us understand what is happening. We poured the coffee and listened.
We learned that the Salvation Army is much more than kettles at Christmas. We learned about warming centers, soup kitchens, food pantries, and entering into people’s lives. The Lieutenant shared his wisdom, experience, and practical insight into the challenges and opportunities of this work. This organization has made it their mission to serve the “others.” They are connected to resources throughout the region, working behind the scenes to provide programming and resources to those on the margins of our society.
We also learned about folks who show up. They recognized a need and consistently showed up to meet it. They learned the names and recognized the faces of the statistics. They offer the gift of their presence, and financial support out of their own budget. This husband and wife are finding practical ways to come along side, to provide necessary resources, and to convey the dignity of seeing to the people who most of us just ignore. These folks are putting hands and feet to the command to love your neighbor.
As I lay in bed last night, I thought about people in tent cities, heroin needles, and winter in New England. I think this is why we don’t engage, don’t learn more, don’t ask questions. I think we all went home with more questions than answers, and the issues seem larger and more daunting. But, it’s not nothing to begin…. so we have.
This is number 27 of a 31 day writing challenge. Please click here to follow the rest of the series. Thank you for joining me on this journey!