Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Walking With the Homeless in the Springwater Corridor

The very first clergy abuse survivor that I worked with became homeless about 2  and ½ years after we met.  I knew about the connection between homelessness and abuse, but it became more real for me because when I wanted to support this man.  I had to walk the streets of the part of Portland, Oregon, where he lived in order to find him.

I later connected with some local Portland groups advocating for houseless people.  I encountered among them more abuse survivors, including many who had truly messed up lives.

When you are abused you need lots of support for healing.  Unfortunately there is a trend in our society so say, "Too bad; you are responsible for yourself."

The problem is that abuse, like combat, causes damage to the portions of the brain that process emotions and memory often leading to severe enough dysfunction to be given a psychiatric disorder -- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  In the days of Sigmund Freud it was labeled "hysteria" in women who had survived child sex abuse.  After World War I, veterans were said to be "shell shocked".  After World War II, it was called "Battle Fatigue".

Tell an abuse survivor (or a veteran) to just get over it is like telling someone with Down's Syndrome to just get over it.

I am under no illusions that what I do changes anyone's life.  Handing out a sleeping bag or a water and a nutritional bar does not change someone's life.  What I know is that when someone is hungry, I can make that hunger go away for a few to several hours.  I can help them feel cared for and cared about at least for a short time.  

Abuse survivors sometimes feel like trash because that is how they were treated...like so much garbage to be used and thrown away.

The houseless feel the same way.  Too many people judge them for being dirty or without a job or house.  

Well, anyway, that's the why I started walking with the homeless.  The I started on Walking Across Oregon to raise Awareness About Abuse.  We encountered homeless along the way.  I started walking just once a year beginning in 2010 and 2011.  Then I hooked up with some local homeless advocates and went on several walks in 2012.  2013 was a year for my family and myself to work on our issues.  2014 we went on three walks.  2015 seems like a year that will see us walking some more.

My son often accompanied me on my walks with the homeless. He discovered the homeless camps along the Springwater Corridor while biking the trail.  There are fewer services there so we decided to go where there was more need.

This walk in the pictures below is actually our second Walk With the Homeless for the year.  The first time we went to the Springwater Corridor was in March.  It was cold and rainy and the police had just swept away the homeless camps that had formed in the area.  So we met no one that day.  As you can see our walk with the homeless in April lasted about 30 minutes as we met so many people so quickly we ran out of our two carts of supplies very quickly.

We are going again on April 25th.  Meet us at Cartlandia for dinner at 5PM.  We will wear blue shirts or blue fleeces or blue sweatshirts or blue jackets.

Colin and Janelle and our carts of 2 blankets, 1 quilt, one light woman's jacket, 2 women's shirts, 2 men's shirts, 2 bars of soap, hand sanitizer, scarf and two rosaries.

At our first stop we encountered two men sharing a tent.

Homeless people often pair up because one person can go out for whatever reason (bathroom, groceries,     .....) while the other watches belongings and keeps a campsite safe.

One of these two men told us that the local soup kitchen was closed on Sundays and that the nutritional bars we gave him was the only food he had eaten that day.  We plan to go back next time with bottled water, packaged nutritional bars, and other food too.

The Springwater Corridor runs for miles from the Willamette River to Boring, Oregon.

We obey traffic lights and wait for our turn.

Across SE 82nd we head east.

We meet one group and then another came up.  We handed out one quilt, 2 bars of soap, toilet paper (pretty important), hand sanitizer, a woman's jacket, a man's shirt, an old shower curtain that would make a good tarp.

One of the homeless gave us a $10 donation to buy groceries and water for next time.

Love exists in the most unexpected places.

We ran out of supplies in less than 20 minutes but the walk was lovely so we continued another 10 minutes anyway.

We passed a Big Leaf Maple tree.

Even weeds are beautiful when they flower.

A kitty greeted us, curious if we had treats for her too.  We didn't, but she allowed us to pet her anyway.

Then we headed home.

This is what donations buy:

$5 - 12 nutritional bars
$10 fried rice for $10 people
$5 - 28 bottles of water
$20 - 20 pounds of clothing at the Goodwill outlet.

To join us contact Virginia Jones at compassion500@gmail.com.

No comments:

Post a Comment