Thursday, December 13, 2007

And Everyone Would Have A Friend


For the past few weeks, the number of guests we've served at the soup kitchen has been significantly smaller. Down 50-60% from just a month ago, and 70-80% lower than our highs during the summer.

We're perplexed -- wondering where all the regular guests have gone. (Our number of guests is always higher during the summer, when we tend to have more families.)

It's not like the economy is booming and they've all gotten jobs. For the most part, we serve the unemployable.

It's not like it's too cold for them to get out. A lot of them are out all night already. For the last two weeks, we've had several show up an hour before we open for breakfast, hoping that we can put them to work (and let them in out of the snow).

It's unlikely that they've moved south for warmer weather. Last year we had steady numbers all winter. Besides it's a long way to hitch-hike to Florida, particularly when no one's likely to pick them up in the first place.

It's not like the food's bad. We have a new cook, and the word on the street is that he's great.

Tonight I'm going to a meeting where we'll try and figure it out.

* * *

From one of my favorite Christmas songs:

And everyone would have a friend,
And right would always win,
And love would never end.
This is my grown-up Christmas list.

- Linda Thompson



Lemuel said...

This is a great song! I have a copy of it by Michael Bublé.

I hope that somehow the missing ones have found a better way of life.

Gillian @ Indigo Blue said...

OH what a fantastic list Paul...I should look into the Buble that man.

I hope you solve the riddle of the missing patrons...I would hate to think there are people missing a meal when you are there serving one!

Doug said...

I really hope the reason is they found jobs and are living in a safe place. The alternate possibilities are frightening.

Great song.

somewhere joe said...

That is odd, did anything come of the meeting? Blessings, Paul, for being in a place where you noticed and care...

Cooper said...

I am grateful that there are people who not only see the lost, hidden human beings in our communities, but do something about it. Thank you for your loving grace, Paul.

Paul said...

Everyone: I appreciate your kind thoughts. I've found that you really get a lot out of helping this group, especially when someone says something like "Do you have any toilet paper or soap that I could have?" (And yes, we always do.) If you want to volunteer, we could always use more help.

We didn't come up with any real answers last night. We're going to be asking around the next few days to see what we can determine. I may even head out to the streets for a "field trip."

However, we did prepare 140 gift bags full of good loot that we're going to give as a surprise to each guest one day next week. (I can't tell you when, or it might spoil the surprise.)

Doug: Most of our guests are "unemployable" due to either mental illness, physical disabilities or age.

Cindrarella said...

You are awesome. Please keep us posted on what you find out.

You are very inspiring!

TWISI said...

You are a good man with a kind heart. The world would be a better place if we were all more like you.

Paul said...

Cindrarella and TWISI: Thanks, but please don't go putting me on any pedestal. (I'm sure you'd think a lot less of me when I'm in one of snarky moods.) I was taught by my parents very early that it's important to volunteer, and to help others, when you're not busy earning a living.

Matt said...

Paul, you don't take enough credit. Not to put you on a pedestal - since I KNOW you have snarky moments - ;). But the mere fact that you do volunteer, and care, and notice things like this, and want to do something about it - and WILL - put you ahead of the majority of the pack. So, no pedestals, but accept some admiration from me and the rest of us.

Lightning Bug's Butt said...

Who gives a crap? As long as they ain't sucking my hard-earned tax dollars.

Effin' bums.

Merry Christmas.

Jessica Foster said...

Let's hope it is because they ahve found something better, not worse. I prefer to think on the positive but sometimes the reality doesn't warrant it.
Working in a non-profit, it's frustrating when people don't find the things we have to offer them. Then, when someone finds us and is so happy, so surprised that we're here. I'm always disappointed, wishing they could have found us sooner.

dbv said...

i love love love this song... but, the eartha kitt version is my favorite!!! and do tell when you get it figured out where they went!!