|A VISITOR'S VIEWPOINT
The following is a first-hand report of our outreach program:
"It was a dreary, wet and chilly Saturday afternoon in late March. In Roosevelt Park right in front of the once glorious Union Train Depot, a small band of individuals was busy. In assembly line fashion they sorted, stacked and bundled bags of clothing. Others placed carefully packed lunch meals in sacks on the opposite end of the table. Sign in sheets and referral cards were reviewed and placed near the head of the table. The diverse crowd of men and women, young and not so young, chatted comfortably as they waited for their guests to arrive.
When asked if they really expected folks to show up in this miserable weather, Karen Gates, Executive Director, answered, "Sure, they will be here because they know we will be here." We both look across the expanse of what is now an empty park. A few minutes pass and as predicted, the guests start to arrive. They appear as if out of nowhere. However, mostly they come from nearby shelters, hidden alcoves, and overcrowded residences that house many of the city's poor and homeless. They enter the park mostly one by one – a few join up with others (this is mostly a male crowd) and they approach the table with signs of recognition. Suddenly there is a different energy around the table. Those operating the table begin to do what they do best, - engage the forgotten. During the next 90 minutes, they will provide services to 20-50 individuals."
(written by Linda Campbell after visiting our outreach in March 2006)