Stories From The Mission
Everyone wants to be remembered. Everyone wants to believe that they will not be forgotten when they die. For many homeless persons, this is actually something they think about. 'Will anyone remember me when I am gone? Will anyone notice or care?' The reality of death is something that the chronically homeless have witnessed up close. Every year, I maintain a list of names of those who die homeless in our community. It’s only April, but I already have seven names on my list.
This morning I was talking to one of our guests, a chronically homeless man, approaching his seventh decade of life. He’s the one who brought it up. “How’s that project out back coming along?”
“You mean the memorial garden?” I asked.
“Yeah, how’s that coming?”
I told him about our plans to put up a fence, plant trees, flowers and shrubs, and build a wall – a wall inscribed with the names of homeless men and women. I told him about our efforts to raise the funds to buy the materials. Then I asked what he thought about the project.
“I think it’s a good idea. A real good idea.”
My homeless friend is probably more sensitive to the topic than most. His health is failing. He’s not as strong as he used to be. He sits in the homeless shelter, taking breathing treatments several times a day. And then, there’s the burden of what happened six weeks ago – his friend said he wasn’t feeling well and lay down to take a nap. He never woke up.
Everyone wants to be remembered, but what about those who don’t have the money to pre-plan their own funeral, buy a cemetery plot and headstone? What about those who have no family to write a eulogy or epitaph? What about them? Does anyone remember that their life mattered?
I have in my possession the ashes of a man who spent decades as a hobo – a train rider, with no family, no home, no roots. Somehow he landed in Lincoln. At the People’s City Mission he got sober, got a job, and then, for the first time in many years, he got an apartment of his own. When he died, he had no resources, so People’s City Mission became the heir of his ashes. Who will remember him if we do not?
At People’s City Mission, we have an idea that we think will help our community remember that every life matters. We envision a garden, bordered by a white picket fence, shaded by trees that burn golden in the autumn air, scented with flowers that bloom in the spring sunshine, benches that welcome those with tired feet to rest and remember those who died homeless. The centerpiece of the garden is a red brick wall. On the wall are the names of those men and women who died homeless. Homeless, not forgotten. Homeless in life, not in death.
We are going to build a garden, but we can’t do it without your help. We intend to use volunteer labor for the construction and landscaping, but we need cash to purchase the materials. Will you help us remember the homeless?
- Category: Homeless , Volunteers , News
An aged deacon was leading a pious group of believers in prayer, He began with one of his stereotypical phrases, “Oh Lord, reach Thou out to the lost and dying, shelter them with Thy great love, touch them with Thy mighty finger…”
As he spoke these words, he suddenly stopped short and looked around in amazement. Other members came to his side and asked if he was ok. He replied, “Yes, I think so. But something strange just happened to me. As I was praying, a clear and distinct voice whispered into my ear, “Thou art the finger!”
This is National Volunteer Week and I want to take a moment to thank all the folks who have become the finger of God by helping those among us struggling against poverty and homelessness. We so much appreciate your good work and take this time to celebrate all the wonderful volunteers in our community!
- Category: Pastor Tom
"Charlie is a joy" and we are so thankful for him and his servant heart! ~Nora Ragon, HPC Volunteer Coordinator
Charlie Rupp has been a faithful volunteer at our Homeless Prevention Center since 2006, but helping the homeless and impoverished in Lincoln has been an important part of his life for much longer than nine years.
“My favorite thing about volunteering is giving back to the community… I started my mission giving in parks, helping those down and out…”
Charlie would take care of the homeless men living in the parks around Lincoln by bringing them food, water and Gatorade; he would even frequent the dollar stores to get them shaving cream, deodorant and other needed items.
During these years he was also volunteering for multiple non-profits, including the Mission’s Homeless Prevention Center (HPC). Eventually he decided to dedicate all his volunteer hours at the HPC, because he saw significant needs being met there every day.
“There’s a staff here that takes care of you no matter what your needs are. You think nobody cares about you? Come to the Mission and you’ll find someone [who will] take care of you and your needs, their arms are always open.”
Charlie started volunteering at the HPC by helping clean the grounds around the building. For years, he volunteered every Monday through Friday, but has recently cut down his days to just Monday and Fridays. Charlie organizes and mans our bread room and helps the shoppers get their allotted food during the busy shopping days.
Did we mention that though the years, Charlie walked to every place he volunteered? And he still does today…
- Category: Volunteers