All posts tagged: #homeless

Comparison Game

My first job out of college was at a Chicago homeless shelter. They provided drop-in services on cold winter nights and a year-round residential program for recovering homeless addicts. I did donor relations and lived in a crowded apartment above the shelter. I was invited to hang out with the residents whenever I wanted, including daily breakfast downstairs before work. Every morning, 13 residents would get up from the tables to form a circle in the warm cloud of Cook Lula’s spicy potatoes and onions. The tallest resident would boom, “Hook up the cables! I need a jump start!” We joined hands and closed our eyes. They thanked God for their warm beds and the roof over their heads. They thanked God for Mr. Jay and Mr. Brian teaching them how to stay clean and get jobs. Then one morning one man earnestly prayed, “I thank you, God, for the use of all my limbs.” Everyone nodded, murmured, and moaned their agreement. Never, ever in my life had I passionately thanked God for the use …

Mary’s Socks – World Changer Wednesday

Last October we featured World Changer, Mary Reczek. She’s a little girl in Wheaton, Illinois who set a goal to collect 800 socks for SOCKTOBER. But she received 1370(!), and with plenty of October left to go, she upped her goal to 2000(!). Last year Mary received 2635 pairs of socks for Chicago’s homeless! After that, Mary, and her brothers, Charlie, and Sam, went with World Changer Warrior Gayle Bloink several times into the city to feed, clothe, and pray with the homeless there.  The socks lasted almost an entire year. Because they had so many socks generously donated  last year, they were able to always have socks with them when they brought food on Saturdays. The socks were almost more important than the food!  So many homeless friends have come to hope for socks each week. It is difficult to turn them away.  Mary hated when she would run out on any given week. So for Mary’s birthday this year she would like to collect **3000 pairs of socks** for Chicago’s homeless by 10/31/16. (Here is …

The Luggage

One hot summer day, after swimming lessons and before an afternoon at the Art Institute of Chicago, we went to our homeless shelter. The parking lot was packed. I was wearing a short black dress, had my makeup, nails, and hair done. My kids were in clean clothes with hair still wet from the pool. We parked our shiny new minivan, looked around, and pulled out 7 suitcases. I strapped the hanging bags on my shoulders and carried two smaller ones, the big kids pushed two giant rollies, Greta dragged a bag. We lugged them across the soft asphalt and got in line at the front door. I took a deep breath in the hot sun. I whispered to the kids, “Be kind. Be polite. Do not touch each other or fight. Smile at everyone.” They looked around, a little scared. An old guy with a dirty shirt and beard blocked the doorway with his big belly. Two little girls with black pigtails and turquoise shorts giggled under a tree. Lots of tall skinny guys in undershirts …

UPDATE – World Changer Wednesday – Mary

Last week we met World Changer, Mary Rezcek. (To read that post click here) Here is a little morning message from her to brighten your day. Please watch it. https://youtu.be/SIbdCotDWbw Mary was hoping to collect 800 pairs of socks to give to the homeless in Chicago this winter. So far, she has received 1370 pairs of socks! ***** Now she is hoping for 2000 by 10/31/15! Only 630 more pairs ***** I love it! In the video Mary refers to her friend Sparkles. Here is a picture of them. They met the very first night Mary went downtown when she was 5 years old. It’s not hard for Mary to be a World Changer because she isn’t thinking about facts and numbers. She is remembering real people that she actually talks to. She is thinking about their cold, wet feet. She loves them because she knows them. Mary and her friends are writing notes to go in each pair of socks. They aren’t just going to drive by and toss them out the window. They are going to hand …

World Changer Wednesday – Mary

Do you let your kids talk to strangers? When you see a homeless person do you avoid eye contact and tug at your kids’ sleeves to keep walking? Does the big city scare you? My friend Gabi is a World Changer. She has practical ideas, strong opinions and a big heart. Helping other people is a simple, common sense idea to her, and she’s desperate for The Church to cut the crap and get to work. She and I are Stubborn Soul Sisters in this regard. I really do want my kids to be World Changers, but sometimes I chicken out. Our family’s Compassion Focus last year was Homelessness. We focused on our county, town, and school, but we never made it to downtown Chicago. We learned many new things, but we did not learn how to befriend a homeless person on the street. Gabi’s kids have been serving the homeless for a long time. Their daughter Mary started going downtown to love homeless people when she was 5 years old. Look and see what …

“It’s Cold”

This the second day my kids’ school was cancelled because it is -25º with the windchill here in Illinois.  It hurts to go outside.  Houses and cars are frozen and refusing to work.  We’ve all got cabin fever.  I need groceries.  The washing machine broke.  Not super smiley today. Whenever something feels too intense (i.e. I hate it), I’m trying to get perspective and consider what Compassion could look like in it.  It’s a mental and spiritual discipline that gently erodes my entitlement and ungratefulness. As you deal with extreme weather you could consider these compassionate responses: 1. Cold & Homeless:  The average age of a homeless person in DuPage County (my affluent county) is EIGHT years old. Most of the homeless here are together in families, not the toothless, mentally unstable, unshaven loners many of us think of.  They are staying in crowded shelters and/or living in their cars during this extreme weather.  Some families are homeless because it is better to be homeless that to stay with their abusive spouse/provider.  Think about that.  We …

Together We Did It! – a 2014 Summary

[This was what I posted on Facebook 12/10/14 at the end of my family’s Family Compassion Focus projects in 2014.  We are always amazed at how exuberantly people join in our kids’ world changing ideas.] None of us are surprised, right? *** $2162.00 *** Thank you so much. That is more than FOUR TIMES Greta’s goal of raising $500 to Help the Homeless through (another) craft sale. Makes me teary. God is good. Greta is beaming and singing. So many shiny, happy people donating with joy. We are giddy and humbled and tired. After school today we: – Dropped off a check and birdy ornament to DuPage Pads. $1000 total will be given to them for their comprehensive work with the homeless in our town and county. You made that happen.             – Shopped as a family on Amazon to purchase $500 worth of sheets, blankets, flatware, toothbrushes, maxi pads, pots and pans, a toilet brush (Caleb thought this was a great gift), tissues, oil, rice, and a fan for …