The first few hours were spent in training, setup, prayer and a group soup before the doors opened. From the first guest to the last one leaving it was a heart felt experience. The homeless entered with excitement and thanks for the opportunity. They were greeted at the doors and escorted to their table where a friend waited to chat with them and serve them a hot meal. We offered extended services separate from that day such as a one night shelter, rehab centers, long term living programs, medical attention, and blankets, coats, and other warm items for their journey. Some stayed just long enough to enjoy their meal and grab a bag while others stayed for the entire duration of the event which lasted about four hours. It was absolutely amazing to experience this day of selflessness and charity that they received. My role was a greeter, so i was the first point of contact as they entered the church. I stood eager to greet every guests with a huge smile and a loud welcome. The homeless were treated like priority for a day, like people who matter and I'm positive we made an impact in their lives. Maybe giving them a little hope that there are people who care and want to lend a helping hand. Hope that this world isn't completely filled with lost souls that look the other way.
I was overjoyed to greet the guests that made the decision to come in for shelter on that rainy cold day. But my mind drifted often to those who made the decision not to come and those who had already taken shelter somewhere earlier in the day to prepare for the nasty weather. I wondered if they were warm and had food and if they were alone? I pray that those we couldn't reach out to found shelter and that they have a softened heart from our attempts and maybe accept the invitation next time its offered. At the end of the day, my feet were frozen from wet socks, my head was pounding from standing at the cold door for four hours and holding a smile, and my tummy was running on fumes because i was starving. It was just a snip of what the homeless go through everyday as they weather the changes of mother nature, look for food to fill their bellies, and pray for shelter, some spare change, or just a glimpse of hope. Many of the homeless plan to return next year for the event and i too share their enthusiasm. Enthusiasm that we will receive another day and another year to join together and be a part of something bigger than ourselves. "Don't Walk By" is just one of many organizations that cater to the homeless. I plan to seek more opportunities and give my time to someone in need.
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