The Intermittent Volunteer’s Weblog

Befriending People in Dallas Who Are Homeless

Cold Feet March 20, 2013

Sunday, March 17, 2013

 

Cold Feet

by Karen Shafer

 

Although it’s cold here on the New England lake where I’m staying with my family — in the thirties — the weather has not stopped my ten-year-old grandson, Louis, from organizing family rowing parties on the lake the past two days.  It goes without saying that he’s the ship’s captain, which is almost certainly a motivating factor for any ten-year-old.  He’s enthusiastic about being in charge and even got his mother to go out rowing this morning when it was 29 degrees!

 

As a family, we’ve rowed across the lake twice this weekend and staked our claim, like settlers, on the shore of an island or promontory, which my grandson has dubbed ‘New Louis.’  (Please don’t tell the people in the waterside mansions up the hill from where we landed that new settlers have arrived:  they no doubt think they own the land.)  Today when he, his eight-year-old sister, Anna, his father and I made ‘the crossing’, it was 37 degrees and also quite windy — and we were rowing into the cold wind and against the waves.  At times, it seemed seemed to me that we were either going backwards or sitting still in the middle of the lake, paddling our hardest, and I thought, “Hmm, making this crossing yesterday was really fun, but this is starting to feel a little like actual work.”

 

Eventually, though, we gained the coast of New Louis and clambered ashore — or rather, they leaped, and I crawled.  While the other three first scrambled up a pine tree that had been blown over and uprooted to a 45-degree angle by a recent storm, then went off hiking, I sat on a wall, regretting the fact that I’d left my winter boots in Boston.  My feet in tennis shoes and cotton socks had gotten damp from water in the bottom of the boat, and how cold they now felt became the full focus of my attention, delighted though I was with the outing and with our newly conquered territory.

 

I soon figured out that, though the temperature was in the mid-thirties, if I took off my damp socks and shoes and sat barefoot with my feet under a pile of dry leaves and grass, my feet were warmer and I was more comfortable than I was sitting in wet shoes.  I hung my damp socks on a branch to ‘dry’ and piled more dry pine needles over the ‘nest’ into which I’d pushed my feet.  Chastising myself for being a wimp and a whiner did nothing to erase the fact that nothing seemed more important to me than how cold my feet felt.  And I had only been out in the wind and damp for about forty-five minutes… an hour max.

 

As I sat on the wall pondering what a softie I’ve become in middle age, I began to think of our homeless brothers and sisters, out on the street in similar weather and that which is much more severe.  I remembered how, in times past when I’ve been around homeless people in the winter, there’s nothing they’ve seemed to need more — and nothing which is more often lacking — than clean dry socks and shoes, and I recalled how charities serving the homeless population often emphasize this.  Being in New England, I thought of sock drives sponsored by the Boston Red Sox.  I vowed that the next time I show up at a service provider which helps homeless people, I’ll do so with at least a pack if not an armload of white athletic socks…  and I wistfully and pitifully imagined borrowing one of those pairs of socks for myself at that moment, just until we got back to the house.

 

My family came back from their hike, and we rowed back across the lake… with the wind this time, and in a quarter of the time, thank goodness.  I did more reflecting as we paddled;  the rhythm of the oars moving through the water was conducive to it.  I thought about how comfort-dependent I am, especially as I get older — and, indeed, what comfortable lives most of us middle-class Americans live.  How pampered we are, and how miserable it must be to be homeless, living on the street, and know that you are facing hours, days of cold, wet feet.  How does one cope with that?

 

We reached the small sandy beach in front of the house where we are staying, pulled the rowboat onto shore, traversed the yard and entered the lovely, warm, dry house.  I rushed straight to my slippers and greeted them with a sense of appreciation and affection I’d forgotten I could feel for shoes.

 

KS

 

Common Cathedral February 13, 2013

Wednesday, February 13, 2012

 

Common Cathedral

 

I’ve just been invited by my daughter, her family, and a wonderful friend who is a nurse serving the homeless community in Boston to attend services at Common Cathedral one Sunday in the next few weeks.  Can’t wait!

 

http://ecclesia-ministries.org/common_cathedral.html

 

Prayer for Peace December 16, 2012

Sunday, December 16, 2012

While cleaning off a bookshelf today, I found a bookmark with this printed on it in one of my mother’s old prayer books.  Not so easy to do, but worth trying for…  KS

 

Prayer for Peace

 

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt,  faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

And where there is sadness, joy.

 

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;  

to be understood as to understand;

to be loved, as to love.

 

For it is in giving that we receive,

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

 

Being Led August 20, 2012

Filed under: Christianity,healing,inspiration,Leadership,Vocation — Karen Shafer @ 2:54 am

From Henri Nouwen:

 

“Let me tell you about a[n] experience connected with my move from Harvard to L’Arche. It was clearly a move from leading to being led.  Somehow I had come to believe that growing older and more mature meant that I would be increasingly able to offer leadership. In fact, I had grown more self-confident over the years. I felt I knew something and had the ability to express it and be heard. In that sense I felt more and more in control.

 

But when I entered my community with mentally handicapped people and their assistants, all controls fell apart, and I came to realize that every hour, day, and month was full of surprises — often surprises I was least prepared for…. Often people responded from deep places in themselves, showing me that what I was saying or doing had little if anything to do with what they were living. Present feelings and emotions could no longer be held in check by beautiful words and convincing arguments…. Without realizing it, the people I came to live with made me aware of the extent to which my leadership was still a desire to control complex situations, confused emotions, and anxious minds.

 

It took me a long time to feel safe in this unpredictable climate, and I still have moments in which I clamp down and tell everyone to shut up, get in line, listen to me, and believe what I say. But I am also getting in touch with the mystery that leadership, for a large part, means to be led. I discover that I am learning many new things, not just about the pains and struggles of wounded people, but also about their unique gifts and graces. They teach me about joy and peace, love and care and prayer…. They also teach me what nobody else could have taught me, about grief and violence, fear and indifference. Most of all, they give me a glimpse of God’s first love, often at moments when I start feeling depressed and discouraged.

 

My movement from Harvard to L’Arche made me aware in a new way how much my own thinking about Christian leadership had been affected by the desire to be relevant, the desire for popularity, and the desire for power.  Too often I looked at being relevant, popular and powerful as ingredients of an effective ministry.

 

The truth, however, is that these are not vocations but temptations. Jesus asks, ‘Do you love me?’ Jesus sends us out to be shepherds, and Jesus promises a life in which we increasingly have to stretch out our hands and be led to places where we would rather not go. He asks us to move from a concern for relevance to a life of prayer, from worries about popularity to communal and mutual ministry, and from a leadership built on power to a leadership in which we critically discern where God is leading us and our people…  Old patterns that have proved quite effective are not easy to give up.

 

I leave you with the image of the leader with outstretched hands, who chooses a life of downward mobility.”

 

~~ From In the Name of Jesus, Reflections on Christian Leadership

 

A Message From Karen Dudley & The Dallas International Street Church August 15, 2012

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

 

Personal Message 

from 

Pastor Karen   

 “Where there is no vision the people perish”

Proverbs 29:18

In talking with more and more youth there seems to be a lack of vision for their generation.  Many are meandering through life without purpose or goals.  With this mindset it should come as no suprise that many find themselves in bondage to drugs, alcohol, cutting and abusive relationships.  In other words they are perishing. And adults are no better in that they suffer from the same emptiness.  No vision.  Thats where the church stands in and and cast the vision of God before His people in order that they may get a vision for themselves, their marriage, their family, etc. If we want to stop the perishing in our communities then we the church must begin to cast the vision of God but before we can do that we must first have a vision of God ourselves.

 

 

 

Freedom, Blessings, and the Fourth of July July 3, 2012

Filed under: inspiration,Leadership — Karen Shafer @ 6:27 pm

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

 

Freedom, Blessings, and the Fourth of July


My God! How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy!      ~~Thomas Jefferson

 

 

 

 

How often we fail to realize our good fortune in living in a country where happiness is more than a lack of tragedy.     ~~Paul Sweeney

 

 

 

 

There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.      ~~William J. Clinton

 

 

 

 

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.     ~~Abraham Lincoln

 

 

 

 

For what avail the plough or sail, or land or life, if freedom fail?     ~~Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for the quotes to Don Hood, attorney and friend.



http://www.dehlaw.com/attorney-biography.html

 

Coercion or Cooperation? January 10, 2012

Monday, January 9, 2012

Coercion or Cooperation?

Pine Street Inn in Boston, Massachusetts, New England’s largest resource for homeless men and women, sends Outreach vans onto the city’s streets 365 nights per year — in the cold, snow and rain — offering homeless men and women help in the form of warm blankets, hot meals, clean clothes and transportation to shelter.  The journal below allows us to follow a van on one night’s journey and details some of the experiences of the shelter’s outreach volunteers.

Imagine just for a moment that you are one of the homeless women or men described in the article.  As you read, ask yourself whether you would respond better to the approach used by Pine Street — one of respect and trust building — or to the methods used by many other cities, which often includes this choice:  “Do you want to go to a shelter or go to jail?”  KS

 

 

One Night’s Journey

December 2011

Have you ever wondered what happens to Boston’s homeless men and women on cold winter nights?



Every night, Pine Street Inn’s Outreach vans head out, loaded with warm blankets, hot meals and clean clothes, offering rides to shelter. Through the cold and snow, the Outreach teams crisscross the city from 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., serving people in need.

Here are just a few of the situations that Outreach counselors Nelson, Vincent and Maggie encounter during one night on the vans.

10:05 p.m., Financial District

Outreach counselors find two homeless women in their 60s, Susan and Annie, huddled together in an alley. Susan was assaulted the previous night, and Annie is determined to stay by her side “to protect her.” Maggie offers the women hot soup and a sandwich. She listens as they tell their story, but senses that it will take time to build their trust before they will accept a ride to the shelter. Reluctantly, the Outreach team moves on, but they will check on Susan and Annie again tomorrow.

1:30 a.m., Washington Crossing

Outside a coffee shop, the Outreach team finds Donald, whom they have encouraged to go to shelter before. Tonight, he accepts a ride to Pine Street. On the way, Donald tells the counselors that he has been sick. By the time the van arrives at Pine Street, Vincent has arranged for Donald to see a doctor the next morning.

3:45 a.m., Boston Common

It’s cold and raining when Nelson spots a light coming from under a bridge. There, Nelson finds James, who is trying to stay dry. Nelson has known James for three months and is slowly trying to build his trust and convince him to spend the night at Pine Street. James has not been ready in the past, but tonight when Nelson asks if he’d like a ride to the shelter, James says “yes.”

A warm bed and a hot meal were his first steps on the road to a better life. Today – with the help of Pine Street – James has a full-time job and is living in his own apartment.

5:00 a.m., Pine Street Inn

The outreach vans return to Pine Street and the counselors meet to talk about the individuals they spoke with the night before and prepare for the next night’s journey.

Video link: “Human Dignity is Paramount:

http://www.pinestreetinn.org/about_history.php

http://www.pinestreetinn.org/