This blog post by Peggy Scanlan Brown was originally published in the IVC Chicago Footprints Blog.
Am I the only impatient volunteer in the bunch? I ask God for patience every day 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 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 6:30 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?” with, “Blessed, I’m blessed.”
God give them more blessings and me more patience.
Peggy Scanlan Brown has lived in the Chicagoland area all of her life and knows well the overwhelming need of so many of its residents. She has been volunteering with Franciscan Outreach, a homeless services provider in Chicago, since 2001. She has been Chairman of the Board of Franciscan Outreach since 2011. She is, also, an original member of the Chicago Regional Council of the Ignatian Volunteer Corps.