He came to us seeking an overnight shelter. Elderly and relying on a small shopping cart to balance himself, he managed to find The Father’s Heart. The first time we met was in our doorway an hour before we opened. He was in deplorable condition. Swollen feet, soiled clothing and worn out shoes. He was only interested in coming in.
As he rose to his feet, we offered him a complete change of clothing and shoes. As he went into the restroom to change out his clothes, he insisted on squeezing his small grocery cart inside. It was good that he had come early. It took him nearly an hour to be able to change his clothing.
After he was settled in our dining room, the volunteers graciously waited on him at his table. All were concerned about him. His only concern seemed to be for a check he was waiting for. He was planning on getting an apartment. The problem was, his bank was in another state far away and he wasn’t having success connecting with them.
Day after day he was getting on the phone, not wanting anyone to help. He was sure he could set it up himself. After a week of trying on his own, he was at our doorway again. He was huddled in the corner before hours. I noticed that his legs had sores and were in bad shape.
Then, the kindness we had shown in the past week began to show in a trust that wasn’t present in the beginning. When I crouched down in the doorway with him, I asked him to help me understand how he came to The Father’s Heart. He began to tell me that his wife was in a mental health ward in another state and his son had recently passed away. He also revealed he was told to leave the last place he was at in Washington because of the virus. It was then that I also learned he was a veteran!
Soon, he agreed to seeing the doctor about his legs. He also received foot care from the team that was there for the day and afterwards received a hair cut. While he was being served, I introduced him to our on site case manager for the day. We had someone escort him to her office where she could assess what he needed.
When it was nearing closing time, our case manager came and told me that she was able to arrange a stay for the weekend in a hotel until Monday. Then, on Monday he would be going into housing for veterans. A ride was called to transport him to the hotel. The case worker gathered some food for him while he stayed in the hotel and went to the pharmacy to pick up the antibiotic prescribed by the doctor. She made sure he was checked into his hotel with his food and necessary medication.
This is what we do. We involve outside resources, make referrals through relationships with other agencies. Our volunteers showing kindness, footcare, a doctor, a haircut, someone to take the time to assess his unique needs, meeting his basic needs for clothing, food and rest; a Lyft driver, a hotel, a trip to the pharmacy to pick up needed medication, a collection of food from our pantry…all done with a smile.
We served 89 that day. It was cold. It was raining. It was a good day at The Father’s Heart.