I dropped Kevin off some hamburgers and sandwiches tonight in the car he has been sleeping in for a week. I was honestly surprised he was still there. I was hoping he would be inside somewhere enjoying some football. The car doesn’t run and it ain’t Kevin’s car. Another guy who is struggling right now himself, said Kevin could use it until he can get in somewhere.
Kevin is in his late sixties, very kind guy, looks gentle because he is gentle. He has run a couple of businesses here in the valley at an earlier point in his life. The EMT’s dropped him off at the bus station last Saturday because he no longer had an address. He was in the hospital with a concussion, broken hand and a messed up foot.
He said that he got in a fight with a younger guy who he knew only a little. Kevin caught the guy and his girlfriend going through his stuff when he came out of his bathroom, they got away with a little cash and his check, and Kevin ended up in the Hospital and no place to go back to. The place he was living doesn’t like having cops and ambulances coming around.
Things may have happened differently than that I don’t know. After being homeless myself I don’t see myself as someone who helps homeless people, I see myself as a guy looking to makes some friends. And I have made quite a few friends at the local reach out center.
But, because he didn’t know me Kevin saw me as a helper. One thing I am learning is that people who receive help lie all the time to the people who are helping them. Not because they are liars or even want to lie, but because if they tell the truth about how they live, they know most helpers are not going to help them anymore.
Last Sunday when Kevin showed up at our feed, he was scared and had no idea where he was going to sleep. He went outside for a cigarette and when he saw that I saw that he was smoking, he smiled and lied, “My one cigarette of the day.”
It may have happened that Kevin was drinking with some buddies, had too much whiskey, fell in the bathroom and woke up in the hospital with an empty wallet. The point is, it should not matter what the truth is, any human his age, in his condition, deserves a bed and shower, regardless of how he spends his money.
He will get a check at the first of the month, enough to get him in somewhere. But when I dropped the food off this evening, he was in that car, with flies swarming around and a long walk on crutches just to use the bathroom. It made me sad and angry.
We have families and couples and singles who come to the center every Sunday, living in cars, staying in vans, or under bridges. They are so grateful for the food and the companionship. I just think we can do better as a people who say we follow Christ.
I don’t mean to question Kevin’s integrity, my alternative story was just to make a point of whom we believe, “deserves” help. Christian, no drugs, no alcohol, no cigarettes, looking for work? Sure we will see what we can do. On drugs, alcoholic, too much PTSD to work right now, don’t bow to Christ—sorry man, can’t help you.
I do know for a fact that Kevin was in the hospital and was dropped at the bus station by the EMT’s, because the bus station people told me that much. Wouldn’t it be nice if those EMT guys knew a place in town they could take him to get a bed, a meal, and a shower, just because he was human?
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