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on social justice and cupcakes

I will likely be absent from blogging for the next few days, but expect something Fridayish.

I had today off which was wonderfully pleasant. I'm to the point where I can't actually sleep in anymore, so I got up and did some apartment cleaning and whatnot, though I'm nowhere near done with that.

I've waited since late March to eat at Cake Fetish , mainly because the people I would enjoy it with had given up sweets for Lent. So today was the day to give it a try. I had the half-baked in case you were curious. And no, the cupcakes weren't nearly as amazing as Magnolia Bakery in NYC, but the varieties make up for it.

As Tracy and I were waiting for Nicole and her girls to show up, there was a homeless man sitting in the corner of the restaurant. He had come out of the restroom, wasn't bothering anyone, and was just sitting in the corner talking to himself. He had ordered a cup of coffee, so was rightfully there, but he got kicked out anyway. A man from a store down the way (I'm assuming) came in and asked him to leave as the lone girl behind the counter didn't feel like she could do it. It was interesting to sit there and listen to it all happen. He wasn't treated poorly, but just got kicked out. Of course, I'm not sure how long he had been there, but after he left it was apparent that he used the bathroom for quite some time.

Now there are places in town that turn those living on the streets away outright, and there are those places that let them hang around so long as they don't disturb anyone. I was sort of taken aback with the reaction of the woman in the store, but I understand that before we set foot inside she was alone with him. Even though I rarely think of the families I work with as homeless, they teach me a lot about reactions. When we're out and about doing things, their reactions to people and situations are eye opening to me. Before I started to get into social justice and really investing my time and energy in mission, I know I would have ignored most of the people I meet on the street here and would have been terrified by them. Through my work in Tennessee and here and the many different opportunities in between, I've learned that everyone is a person and deserves to be treated like one. Yeah, you have to keep yourself safe, but the services in this city are few for a large homeless population, and what does it matter if he used a whole roll of paper towels in the bathroom. Humility is something that isn't always instinctive, so I just hope that the woman who has to clean up his mess might reflect on the experience and realize that this man was a person too.

Understanding and compassion could go a long way towards ending homelessness.
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5 Comments:

Jeremy's seen some "interesting" reactions towards homeless people in the coffee shop. Sometimes I am amazed at how people are afraid of some one that is obviously homeless as though this person would hurt them. Often I wonder if they realize that the only thing that really makes them any different is a roof. Some may actually abuse the "system," some may actually choose to be homeless because it's easier than responsibility, some may want to do nothing more than be drunk all the time but we are all but one poor choice away from sharing a box with them. A little humility would and does go a long way.

Kindness is a beautiful thing.

By Blogger Jessica, at 8:12 PM  

Oh, and thanks for your comment on my blog. You know I'd love to have you link!

By Blogger Jessica, at 8:12 PM  

It turns out, it's a whole lot easier living your life with blinds on, or armor, as the case may be. I am now an assistant manager at this Christian coffeehouse, and because I am the first person in that position to have spoken out about how we ought to treat the homeless people that come through our doors, I am now in charge of compiling information on what kind of services our community provides for them. The only policy up until now appears to have been to see how quickly we can rid the space of their presence. This made me very uncomfortable, and got to the point where I had to say something about how we are to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and so forth. And if nothing else, at the very least treat people, all people, with love. I could go on and on. I am certainly no saint. Homeless people make me uncomfortable, but when I encounter someone who is in need of so much, I have a difficult time caring more about the atmosphere of my coffeeshop than the hungry, pleading eyes that aren't afraid of looking me straight in the face. Lest I paint a romanticized picture, I have also encountered those who aren't really looking for help, but a way to feed an addiction. I would rather err on the side of love than judgment or so-called safety.

By Blogger jeremy, at 9:03 PM  

It is amazing just how dealing with the homeless situatation is swept under the rug by municipalities etc. The Salvation Army here has learned they probably will lose all funding from the United Way (50,000) in favor of a food pantry run by (insert large church close to dairy queen - Laura will be able to figure that one out). This appears to be pretty political. Because quite a few programs are funded by state or goverment grants at our Salvation Army they will not be able to cut any of those. One of the few programs that does not have strings attached that could be cut is the hot meal program at noon and supper. Please pray at least some of the funding is restored and this valuable service does not get dropped.

By Anonymous Dad, at 7:26 AM  

Wow, thanks for your blog. Barbara Wheeler had told me to check it out a while ago. I am taking a break from my job at GBGM (as staff writer, I took your picture for the web and for the commissioning, etc.)

It is great to read your thoughtfulness and you are such a good writer.

Living in NYC and having young kids is always challenging, especially when you have to talk to them about homelessness. it's a tough one. thanks for your insights.

By Blogger Mary Beth, at 2:48 PM  

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