Today I would like to talk to you about not giving money, or store bought supplies. Today I was thinking it might be interesting to discuss services that you could render. I have quite a few different friends, acquaintances, comrades, associates, and family members with quite a wide variety of different skills. Amongst them are lay people, pastors, construction workers, office personnel, restaurateurs, clothiers, furniture makers, police officers, pharmacists, teachers, farmers, caregivers, secretaries, custodians, maintenance personnel, politicians, insurance adjusters, grocers, and the list go on and on. The reason for this list is to think about what kind of service you could share with someone. If you like doing research as I do you could assist people with figuring out where to go to get paperwork filled out whether it is for disability or a lost license. If you like to cook or serve you could volunteer at a soup kitchen or shelter, or you could go to a nearby trail and offer the same service for what is called trail magic. And as you know trail magic is unexpected acts of kindness. If you like building with your hand or working with wood you could volunteer at the local park service for fixing up a park pavilion, build a lean-to for the person in the woods, or even make cooking utensils. I have made some very sturdy spatulas, spoons, and forks for cooking over a fire with old solid barn wood. If you like working with needle and thread there are many that go to day rooms and trail towns that could use some assistance with repairing clothing, tents (zippers die quickly, as do tent screens), windbreakers snag easy on brambles, close to expired food can be donated to shelters or taken to encampments right from grocery store shelves with permission from management. The list as you can see goes on and on. If you are a religious person and you want to share your beliefs you can go to shelters and hold studies based on those beliefs.
(Yes, I could be advocating for Christianity here, the problem is that even though Christianity is still strong in this country, when I was out on the trail or in an encampment, I saw young Muslim men and women talking with people, offering assistance, praying with people. I saw young wiccans come forward willing to tidy up a camp site and even offer to help carry gear and supplies for people so that the one receiving assistance was less burdened. Regardless, of how I feel about Christianity over other religions, (oh no, I called Christianity a religion), I saw quite a lot more people that were not Christian stepping up and asking for nothing in return and expecting nothing in return than I did actual Christians.)
If you like to knit or crotchet you could even think about going to shelters or day rooms and starting a knitting club there. If you have a few spare needles, all the better. I will tell you this, this time of year even though the homeless receive things for free, they truly love, mostly, giving handmade gifts to friends and family. Just like anyone else people love to learn new skills, if you have a teachable skill consider teaching it to someone else. Unlike the popular belief that there are tons of people on welfare and they are always trying to mooch off the system, not all of them are like that, some do, I can not deny it, most if they thought they had something to contribute or had a way to make money they would become productive members of society.
One gentleman I met lost his wife in divorce, the judge awarded her the house and the car, and he was left with the debt and very little money, right up to the end he was trying to save his marriage. He had worked at a restaurant with her when they met. He ended up at the same shelter I first went to. After the divorce was final, he opened a new bank account, and everyday went out can-dogging, doing odd jobs, scrapping, and he put everything into the account, he went to the day rooms and the shelters for meals and clothing and supplies. Within six months he had saved enough money to open his own restaurant, his ex-wife and her boyfriend showed up wanting work. He turned them down and he ended up in front of the same judge from his divorce hearing. His ex-wife tried to convince the judge that he had somehow cheated the courts out of knowing he had so much extra money when they were married. She wanted her share of the new restaurant. The judge ended up giving the ex-wife community service and ended up becoming a patron at the restaurant. The judge stepped up and saw that she could offer unique assistance to someone in need. She brought friends with her and the restaurant was succeeding not just surviving within one year. What the ex-wife did not know was at one time the judge had been homeless and living on the very streets she swore an oath to protect.
There are always ways that you can be proactive in life. I met one couple, I believe at that time they were in the mid sixties; they would go down to one of the hardest places in Lansing to live outdoors, it was a city park where alcoholics, addicts, and prostitutes would go to come down off their latest high, this old couple made it their personal mission to visit there three times a week. They would take hats, scarves, and mittens that she crocheted, they would take soup in Styrofoam bowls that he had made and that is how they served. When they were done handing out what they had with them that day, they would go to their favorite bench and chat with the people that hung out there. When the husband passed away, the funeral home was full to capacity by mostly people from that park. The day room was busy for three days as the people from that park went there to get cleaned up to attend the funeral. The day room ran out of soap, shaving razors, all the general supplies needed for people to get cleaned up. Not everyone went to the funeral clean and sober, most of them did try though. After the funeral there was an anonymous donation of supplies to the day room of double what was used. So say it was the widow lady, though since I helped carry it into the building, I know it was a donation by people that when they were truly in need the day room stepped up. The widow lady started coming to the day room once a week and meeting with people there instead of at the park. She said it was not because she was now alone, she had more friends than anyone I had ever met because of how generous her and her husband had been. She started coming to the day room because she saw the change it had made in the lives of her friends from the park and she liked the coffee better there than from the gas station that her husband had always stopped at. By the way they were not Christian either, they were Jewish from Germany, I believe.
Semper Fidelis. Sweets & Elroy