This has been one of the most amazing week I have had in years. We met with a bit of hostility in Seattle our first day. Skepticism our second day. By the third day however, we had our socks knocked off.
Thursday, we took a tour of the temporary location of the Noel House which I wrote about the other day. Even as an interim setting it was evident a lot of care and planning went into it. Housing first is a concept that this writer feels should be in place everywhere, and frankly I am thrilled it is in place here.
Friday, we were interviewed by King5 TV and the camera man was just as nice as can be. Gary, you were great and made this first time TV interview and awesome experience. Next came Cydney an incredible reporter for the award winning newspaper RealChange. The woman does not believe in tape recorders, so she typed word for word and never skipped a beat. But that's not why she was incredible. She totally understood what we were trying to achieve with this walk and her article is going to exude necessity for community action. Thank you Cydney.
Yesterday, our minds were blown away, first by a personal tour of Tacoma's rescue missions and food banks by one of Tacoma's city officials troy and his nephew Trenton. This man and his nephew, were friendly, informative and didn't even huff or puff at the top of Tacoma's 75 degree angled hills! There was so much incredible information that he promised to send it to me so I can write about it in a day or two. With a 77% decrease in the homeless population, Tacoma is definitely doing something right and we could definitely learn from them.
If that wasn't exciting enough, we had the wonderful experience at the family transitional housing center ran by the magnificent Linda. To top that all off, these marvelous residents gave us gifts. Bill entertained us all evening of stories from the streets that were uplifting and hope filled. Clyde shyly presented me with a Hawaiian traveling lucky charm, which I will proudly wear each day of our trip and last but not least Robert, gave Linda his last 50 cents to give to me. He too was a bit shy, but when Linda told me who it was from and that it was the last of his money, I tried to give it back. His shyness miraculously disappeared when he looked me in the eye and said "I won't take it back. I've been homeless too long and know what it feels like to need the help, so you'll take it." As word got around the center of what we were doing, before we left we were given an envelope filled with their hard earned nickels and dimes. I can not tell you how touched I was that these people who have nothing to speak of to their name took up a collection for us!
Today, as if we weren't blessed enough, we were privileged to serve breakfast to over 100 people at the community breakfast hosted at Tacoma's Urban Grace the Downtown Church. Willie, who has been overseer of these meals since they began in 1995, showed us the ropes and gave us a bit of history behind the meals and the people they serve.
Most are homeless, or very low income families and being served meals such as as scrambled egg with sausage, freshly buttered grits and toast with jam, orange juice and coffee is uplifting and gives all including the servers a sense of community. The guests come from all walks of life and some of whom we met today were former teachers, carpenters, housewives and at the end of the meal we were even blessed by a pianist whose music brought tears to my eyes.
Then there was Sugar Ray who has been a member of Urban Grace since 1923 was given the nickname because of his weekly sugaring of the buttered grits. He does this with smiles for everyone and energy that would make him a prime candidate to run the Tacoma marathon which began this morning from the front doors of the church.
Pastor Tad Monroe has such a heart for the down on their luck that although the seats in the sanctuary were not filled with more than 100 people, it was surely spirit filled for this man has been blessed with the gift of compassion that comes through loud and clear not only in his words but in his actions as well.
It is these organizations that I am fighting for. The ones who make a huge difference in their community because they care. The ones who don't judge; who accept people just as they are and although struggling themselves and desperately needing donations, they keep on going. Please, help these, and others like them, who help others unconditionally and make the world a better place, beginning in your own back yard.