Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Homeless in the Suburbs

Dear friends,

It’s been pouring outside on a Tuesday morning, and I am thinking of my homeless friends camping out in the woods within a mile from my house.  The tent leaks, the sleeping bag is soggy -- that is if you are lucky enough to have one and it doesn't get stolen. Just another day in the life.  One day you have a job, you get sick and can’t work, you can’t pay the rent, and you’re out on the street with all of your possessions thrown unceremoniously in the dumpster.  So you live in the suburbs, yeah, but it’s hidden in a thick patch of scrub off the side of the road, where no one can see.  Invisible.  Or, if you’re lucky, you might get some financial assistance to get a room in a motel where many of the other guests don’t have a permanent address to call their own.  That’s what you and your kids call home, and it sure beats the rain.

A warm meal and a bit of congenial fellowship make a big difference.  That’s what my daughter thinks, anyway.  She’s 24 and pregnant, with a huge heart of love for the homeless.  That’s why several times a year she organizes some sort of outreach, along with her husband and a team from Metro Life Church.  

Ana, Betty, Ruthe
They used to do it in downtown Orlando in partnership with another ministry. Now, they’ve moved their own efforts up really close to where we live, where a lot of the homeless are young families.  On Sunday evening in the motel parking lot, they hosted a Thanksgiving style dinner for several dozen people with turkey and ham and all the trimmings.  Artisan rolls. Pumpkin pie.  Hot cider.  Live music. The works.  Next month, it’ll be cookies and hot chocolate, caroling, gifts, and about 30 bins of clothes and blankets.

Most of the volunteers were there to mingle.
A friendly conversation is a huge deal. 

My food contribution: 
star-shaped pumpkin muffins 
and bags of sugar-free cookies.

My little girl was very eager to help
serve the bread!
Artisan rolls!

A full plate, a full heart
Another daughter at the craft table
Oh, it is such a privilege to be a part of this, to go and just be with these precious folks. What a joy to watch the kids’ faces light up to see a fun table set up just for them, with crafts, including a loopy bracelet station. They also loved the little capsules you put in warm water to see them emerge into a little animal-shaped sponges.  Bubble blowing was another hit.  What a delight to see another of my adult daughters and three of my younger kids, ages 8, 10 and 12, come along to help just because they want to do it.  

My 10 year old son rocks at the color loop bracelet making -- check out the collection on his wrist!  I figured the color loop kids would be a hit, since it’s the fad at his elementary school, and sure enough, the 900 loops went fast with a cluster of kids at the table.  So did the 30 gift bags with crayons and candy and other little things for boys and girls.  My kids had a blast filling the cart at the dollar store and then packing the bags assembly line style before church on Sunday.

It was this dear lady's birthday, and the dry sleeping bags and towel, a warm hoodie, a first aid kit, and a bunch of new friends singing “Happy Birthday” meant all the world to her. She had lots of hugs and smiles for me because she knows God is taking care of her, even in the tough times. She got some extra takeout boxes filled with food for her other friends who hadn't come. God bless her, such a sweet lady.  I hope I’ll see her again next month.  I hope by then she'll have a better place to live.

What can you do for those who need a little boost this holiday season?  Check out these links on my blogs:

Two more web sites for those in the Orlando area:

You might also like to listen to Brandon Heath sing "Give Me Your Eyes."

For beauty and justice,
Virginia Knowles

This post may be linked at these blogs:
  • Still Saturday
  • The Sunday Community
  • Raising Homemakers on Wednesday
  • Whole-Hearted Home on Wednesday
  • Wise Woman Link Up on Wednesday
  • Walking Redeemed on Wednesday



    1. Thanks for sharing this over at WholeHearted Wednesdays this week. That is a very special outreach that you are doing with your children. I loved the picture of you with the couple. Good pic!!

    2. Dear Virginia
      It just so happens that our house is the only one without fencing all around in our street. That is an open invitations to the hungry to come and ask for food. At one stage it became very busy, but yesterday I just realized that our Pappa God has taken care of a family for dinner through our lack of fencing! Virginia, please will you send me your pumpkin muffin recipe. I love anything pumpkiny.
      Blessings XX

    3. Amen. This is God. This is kingdom building in a real way, the way people see and experience God, not through words, but action.
      What a blessing.
      Peace and good to you, and those you serve, in Jesus' name.


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