A man named Bear approached the window of Facing Homelessness. A constant stream of people arrived at the window before him with requests ranging from food to socks to water to boxer shorts. Two women specifically requested sanitary pads along with hygiene kits after they were finished at the needle exchange next door. Others simple stopped by to check in, sharing stories of pain, suffering and ultimately resilience - broken bones, drugs, terrifying police encounters, and blood soaked sleeping bag, all a reality of daily life for those living outside.
But it was Bear that stuck with me. He was covered in tattoos and his head was partially shaved, but his eyes were piercing. The skull rings on his fingers reminded me of Ozzy Ozborne, yet it felt shallow to draw such a comparison.
Bear approached the window and asked for Rex, the founder of Facing Homelessness. “I am getting my tools today,” he said. “Rex and I are supposed to meet up.” I could see the hope in his eyes. Then I remembered seeing his face once before. He had been profiled on the Facing Homelessness Facebook page as a carpenter in need of tools just a few weeks before:
Please meet Stephen, you can also call him , he won't mind, he's a friendly guy, is his street name in the U-district, where he feels connected, loved by the beautiful street family there.
Bear is 38 years old, there's been lots of struggles in his life, like the devastating stabbing death of his 18 year old son January 1st of this year, it consumed him, they were close, it was his son that got him clean off heroin and meth, it's his son now too that he draws daily strength from.
recently found labor work at Everything Under the Sun Construction, he was told if he was able to get carpentry tools, they would give him more responsibility and a raise, a bigBIG step towards long term employment.
To all of you who have an extra hammer in your garage, and extra carpenter's belt, speed square, tape measure, chalk-line, gloves, skill-saw, battery drill, goggles, or whatever is in good working shape, please consider donating them to our friend .
Facing Homelessness is an organization rooted in LOVE. With more than 30,000 people gathered around the Seattle page alone, people in NEED are able to ask for help…and those with the resources to GIVE have a means of contributing directly to the lives of others. Within a week, the Facing Homelessness community responded with a BIG donation for Bear, as documented by this follow up post:
Eleven days ago we asked all of you to help purchase tools for Bear, a few weeks before he'd found a $12 an hour labor job in construction, they told him if he gotTOOLS, there would be more responsibility and a pay raise too, a ticket to get off the streets.
A Black&Decker drill and a DeWalt impact drill were brought to our office, andAND, $460 was donated through PayPal. A friend took Bear to buy tools, added an extra $192, with the grand total of $652.00 spent!
Back at the Facing Homelessness Window, I was standing with Bear as he spoke about what the gift of tools meant to him personally. Tears filled his eyes. “Thank you,” Bear said. He grabbed his cup and took a long sip while his eyes turned a deep shade of red. “It’s been a long time since I’ve had a home. A very long time.”
In that brief conversation with Bear, I felt shivers on my arms, and I realized that authentic connection is something ingrained in all of us. It is the awakening of a deep knowing that everyone and everything comes from a single source, like waves upon a deep and vast ocean. The Facing Homelessness page concluded with the following:
Bear starts to tear up, he says, "Thank you, you guys gave me a chance to prove what I am worth, you saved my life, now I get to go to work every day, thank you all for taking a chance on me, for giving me the opportunity to get off the streets."
Bear then went on to talk about his dreams, for changing his life in this beautiful way, for honoring his son with a new dedication to living good, healthy, and strong and giving back to those in need.
After a long hug, I walked back to the office, tearing up the whole way, so happy for Bear, so veryVERY happy to be in this beautiful compassionate community that gives LOVE so freely.
Every experience at the Facing Homelessness window deepens my awareness that THIS is LOVE. It doesn’t come from me. It doesn’t come from another. It is a presence that becomes known in the moment. Some may call it the Holy Spirit. I simply know that it is always there, just yearning to be noticed like the air we breathe. Grace.