Today’s post is by Peggy Brown. Peggy serves on the IVC Chicago Regional Advisory Council. She is also Chairman of the Board of Directors for Franciscan Outreach Association, a homeless services organization in Chicago.
Am I the only impatient volunteer in the bunch? I ask God for patience everyday because I believe that I, and everyone I am working with, could do more to assist those in need. Should do more…
Franciscan Outreach Association, the second largest homeless outreach in Chicago, operates several sites in the city, two of which are overnight shelters where over 320 men and women guests find dinner and a place to sleep each night.
They are cold or they are hot, they are crowded into our emergency shelters, and we try hard to make them feel welcome and safe and appreciated. We offer them community and good food. We offer them assistance to find a better life, and we offer them respite from the dangers and stress of life on the streets…. for 12 hours.
At 6:30am the next morning they must leave the shelter to face another day of homelessness on the streets of ‘judgment.’ They come back at night, sometimes struggling to unfurl a set of frozen fingers to accept the meal we offer. And every night there are some we must turn away because our beds are full and “there is no room in the inn.”
My heart breaks because, as a member of the Franciscan Outreach board of directors, I cannot find enough money to build a bigger shelter, a better place, a haven of hope. I don’t have the power to organize all of this city’s many service providers into a comprehensive network that could address the many problems that have led these homeless men and women to our door.
But when I serve at the shelter, I always find God is at work there. If I listen, I will hear them respond to my query, “how are you tonight?” “Blessed, I’m blessed.”
God give them more blessings and me more patience.