Last week several Calvary members and friends headed out to serve a few of the 3,200 people who sleep on San Francisco’s streets each night. The population of people without homes is actually double that, but about half sleep in shelters according to our guides. Please read on to learn about our experience and for a sign-up form for our next outing on March 26.
The night we went out it was raining hard and fairly steadily. The water is much needed here in California, of course. But walking in it and navigating very large muddy puddles, was a bit of a taste of what it must be to live in it. We spent our time in the Mission and, given the weather, this classic Grateful Dead song “Walking Along in the Mission in the Rain” seemed like an appropriate soundtrack for the evening.
We went out with two local leaders of the Salvation Army. We know they are a controversial group and, as a church, they take a very different stance on homosexuality than we do at Calvary. But they are staunch supporters and very very active servers of homeless people—an oft-ignored population in our very affluent city. And they are, therefore, a good partner for Calvary to learn how to serve too as part of our effort to break cycles of poverty.
The Salvation Army is clear in their priorities. They say “soup, soap, salvation” and they deliver it in that order. What people needed on our night out, as evidenced by what certainly felt like their almost universal grateful response to us, was soup—or in our case sandwiches and hot cocoa. Soap took the form of dry socks and tee shirts which also, it appeared, was met with clear appreciation.
Salvation was perhaps more subtle. It didn’t take the form of preaching but rather, as our leader prepared us for, simple human contact. A warm smile. Meeting eyes. In some cases a hug back when somebody gave a hug of thanks. That’s in sharp contrast to what many people on the streets experience all day long.
And it raised a question. Who was this salvation for? The goal was to make a small difference in the lives of those we touched. But making a difference works two ways of course. Clearly the interactions had an impact on us too—it was a chance to connect versus walk by. An opportunity to take the time to be more human for a few hours.
We spent most of the night walking under the freeway on an aptly named Division Street. We were doing a little little bit to break down a division in our city and a division between people.
Calvary is heading out again Wednesday March 26. If you would like to join or learn more, please let us know via the form. Rain or shine you will make a difference—perhaps especially for yourself.
And as always, there are many other ways to Make a Difference at Calvary. Here are some upcoming opportunities.
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