by Lori Olson
Lori Olson is administrative assistant and Doris Roberts leadership team volunteer at the Mile End Mission.
A warm night with clouds in the sky. Doris and I decided to sit in the park. The Peaceful Park, as we named it, just in front of a local church. As we sat swinging in an old fashioned wooden swing set sipping coffee, it began to rain and with the rain came loud thunder and lightning. So we had to find shelter. To the steps of the church we went. As we were sitting there, two men came running up to get out of the rain and they began to take off their wet clothing and hang them up on the bulletin showcase of the church. Then as we sat, another man came to seek shelter and another. So Doris and I, being friendly as we are, had a great conversation with these fellows who, as they explained, lived on those church steps!
They are homeless and as the thunder cracked and the lightening lit up the sky, we began to wonder if it was ever going to stop so we could go home. So sweet. Two of the homeless men who are brothers offered us their extra cardboard boxes that they use as a bed. They welcomed us to stay in their home! So touching! We spoke to them of the Mission and the services we offer and welcomed them to come and eat and get sleeping bags, so they said they shall.
Another man in his early twenties who also lives on the church steps had no bedding. He spoke awhile with Doris and I and then wished us a good night. He then laid himself down on the cold cement, put his head on top of his backpack and skate board, and went to sleep…
As finally the rain subsided, Doris and I had a chance to get home! But as we began to wish them a good night and walk away, I looked back and felt wowed! I was leaving to go home to a comfortable place with a comfy bed and they were left on the concrete steps sleeping on cardboard boxes and no blankets…No comfort! Just survival…
The next day, one of the brothers came to the Mission and had lunch and was given a pair of shoes he so desperately needed. He now comes time to time and uses our services. As for the man in his twenties, he came a few days after the storm and was cold…The first person he met at the door was a long-time member of the Mission. The homeless man explained he was homeless and cold and our long-time member put his arm around him and walked him inside. While entering, he announced, “Hey, this kid is homeless and cold. We need to find him a sweater”. As they searched, they didn’t find one on our shelves, so our long-time member took the sweatshirt he was wearing off his back and gave it to the homeless young man.
So our new members were received at the Mission with warm welcomes and they found a place to belong, to find friendship and, of course, a place to eat and get articles to help them survive on the streets.