December 2018 street outreach
Some testimony from friend John Cooper who came with us for the first time in December:
December 21, 2018 It was an overcast and rainy morning at about 42°. Our journey again somewhere around noon, not knowing that this one event would change my outlook on life so quickly. Miraculously the rain ended and our mission was to hand out much needed supplies and food to the homeless. Our first stop on our run was to a weathered man, about 48 years old standing on the corner of Alleghany Avenue off of I-95. He shared his story of holding down the full-time job and having a wife and a home. His life changed after an automobile accident. He became dependent on painkillers. With that addiction came another and within a few months everything and everyone near and dear to him and slowly drifted away. He was very kind in sharing his story and very appreciative of the donations we provided him. He received a new lease on life that day, even for just that moment he felt human again. He even provide us with some information where others may appreciate our services.
Within a block we came upon a woman, around the same age who was emaciated and disheveled. The food alone almost appeared to be enough and we supplied her with much more. While slowly trolling the streets, we came upon a husky Man around 55 years old. His deep brown eyes showed how much pain he had been in. He hadn’t eaten in a day. He actually received two meals. We set him up with some gear as well. As we were driving the way he was already sitting against the wall, voraciously eating his food.
Remembering what our first person on Allegheny Avenue said, we searched for a place where we could help many people at one stop. None of us had ever seen such a horrific site. Where we in Philadelphia? Our truck and trailer cautiously rolled under the overpass. We gasped at the approximately two hundred homeless people living in tents and makeshift leans. We were told that every month the city evict the people from their encampment to clean the area and rid that area of “Those People.” They soon would be off to another area where same process would continue that never ending vicious cycle. We drove a few blocks away to talk about how we could help them and decided it was not safe to do so with so many present.
After that clear shock to our systems we went back to work. We came across an amazingly beautiful young lady named Shannon. I’d put her around 22 years old. You could see through her stunning blue eyes and her soul with magnificent, it was pure. Her mind not so. We quickly came to the conclusion that she was on heroin. Does that really matter? No.
We were able to help another half dozen or so people in the same area even parking the truck and trailer on the sidewalk itself to not block Friday Philadelphia traffic. A rather aggressive and ingenious move to help out more people. We moved on and we noticed another young girl. I quickly hopped out of the truck with a lunch in hand and quickly realized that it was Shannon just a few blocks away from where we first met. I dropped to my knees in front of her and cried as I looked into her eyes. This is not fair. She has nowhere to go. As I looked down upon concrete I saw two pennies. One was brilliant and shiny and the other was dull and worn. I gave her one and I took the other. I asked her if she knew what they were and she confidently replied,”Yes they are two pennies.” I went on to say that they were blessings from God because every penny states “In God we trust.” I gave her one penny. We said a prayer and cried together. I told her “You are loved” and I headed back to the truck with the dull penny in my hand.
We ran into more people and helped them the same. Out of the corner of one of our eyes we spotted two yellow and blue tents in a small patch of woods surrounded by a fence. They were barely visible and even more challenging to get to. About 25 yards down the black iron fence we noticed a missing post and squeezed through the opening with our lunches. We cautiously walked up the muddy hill and announced our arrival with the offer of free lunches. Two gentlemen age 55 and 60 came out of there dilapidated tents with elevated spirits. We walked down the hill to the trailer and loaded them up with everything they could possibly benefit from. One of them even asked for the empty cardboard box our supplies were in. They were beyond thankful as we once again ascended the hill to help them carry their donated goods. They were light-hearted loving and friendly as we told each other jokes atop the hill. It was our honor to meet them.
We moved on to the art museum area. We were able to help at least a dozen people in this area. One person who stood out was a 52-year-old stunning Haitian woman. Her soft voice and kind disposition could’ve melted titanium with her love. As we talked, she was only asking for a coat and a new pair of shoes. We spoke to many that only wanted the bare minimum because they knew others needed more than they did. Amazing, most people, who had nothing, were more worried about the people that more nothing that they did? Running out of daylight, we completed our trip at a mission church for the homeless. There was a dozen homeless people outside of that shelter itself. The remaining donations were carefully offloaded and given to the shelter.
Love is everything in this world and nothing is possible without it. It was our honor to help so many people in such a short amount of time. Endless hours of preparation went into this trip to ensure its success. There are countless people who made this trip possible and If it were not for the generous contributions and gracious donations this day would have never occurred.
That day the homeless people helped us more than we could ever help them, on so many levels.
We kindly ask that you find a spot in your heart to contribute to our non-profit ministry.
We were able to help provide our homeless neighbors with the following: a Tent for up to 2 people, Sleeping bag, Flashlight (primarily for searching in dumpsters for leftover food at night), Blue Tarp, Rolling duffel bag, Long underwear, Sweatshirts, Underwear/Undershirts, Socks, Boots and or Sneakers, Winter coats, Hats and Gloves, Toiletry bags for both men and women, A nourishing bag lunch, and last but not least a special holiday Christmas gift bag with much appreciated treats.
The ones who were lucky enough to be on the street that day: Ron and his wife Michelle, Ron’s sister Diane, Andrew, Pete, Mike, Luke, and myself.
God Bless You All.
Sincerely, John Cooper RN