One minister, one nun, one mother and daughter team, and a couple other of us started the day at 5 am by buttering bread, toasting it, setting plates, opening applesauce cans, making pancakes, and serving food. February is my church’s turn to host 70 men at night as part of the Interfaith Homeless Shelter, and this morning was one of my breakfast slots.
The short hour and a half of volunteering is one of those experiences that makes me wonder if the program is set up for the alleged beneficiaries or if it’s more to make us middle-class folks feel good about ourselves. Both goals are fulfilled, and I guess that’s not bad .
Each year I serve only a few meals, not enough for the situation to feel normal. The men we give shelter and food to are carefully screened by the Episcopal Community Services. They’re squeaky clean, and many are employed at jobs that just don’t pay them enough for them to get their own housing. They aren’t folks that match my mental image of “homeless”, especially after having to navigate the Calcutta-like sidewalks of the Castro. Moreover, they shouldn’t be homeless, according to my Puritan/Prussian Arbeit macht Frei upbringing.
Glad to help out this morning. But, I wish all the homeless were drug abusers or obviously defective. I like it when they’re safely unlike me.