Just a few minutes more…..
Today after we closed for the day a guest named Mike was still here. He was pacing back and forth a bit and I was asked to go and talk to him to get him to leave. I remembered Mike as one who had received a haircut today. I mentioned how nice his cut looked. He stopped pacing. He was trying to move things in and out of his small backpack. He said his fingers didn't work well because he had been frostbitten so many times this past winter they were numb. His toes were the same, he said. He was obviously experiencing difficulty working the zipper with his swollen fingers. I offered to do it for him and he accepted, gratefully. He said how good it felt to get a hair cut. It had been a year since his last cut. He said he only heard about Oak Table 2 months ago, and he was so glad he did. The first time he came in he said he was so hungry and the hot meal was so good. He remembered it fondly. Mike wasn't in any hurry to leave. He wasn't being difficult; he simply wasn't ready to go back out on the street. He lives on the street. We made sure he had gloves and dry socks, and all his belongings were secured inside his backpack. Hesitant to go he asked if he could use the bathroom one more time and wash his hands and face. After doing so, he gathered up his gear, said goodbye and thanks before heading out the door.
On reflection it was easy to see why Mike tried to stay as long as he could before heading out to the street again. Here he was spoken to with respect, worthy of conversation and consideration. Here he experienced human touch while he got his hair cut, and concern to make sure he was outfitted for another night on the street. On the street, people avert their eyes when they see a homeless person. Out there, no one speaks to Mike with respect.
Oak Table needs your support to provide Mike and others respite from the streets. We need your donation to offer Mike a hair cut, a meal, a listening ear, and his dignity. Please donate today, for Mike and for all those who find a community of compassion and hope within these doors.