WELCOME FROM HAYWOOD STREET:
Despite the chaotic nature of 2020, with many required changes to programming brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and frequent and distressing reminders that all is not well in our world, the Haywood Street Board of Directors maintained its focus on developing a 5-year strategic plan to guide us. Including input from staff, companions, community members and other key constituents, the plan was adopted in December 2020. It begins by affirming our community call to ‘Relationship, above all else’ and names five strategic directions to guide Haywood Street’s work during the period 2021 – 2025. More…
We currently have multiple employment opportunities available. Learn more…
We are grateful to announce that Haywood Street Respite has re-opened after it’s recent closure due to a COVID exposure. Referrals are again being accepted and we expect to have new folks staying and healing with us by next week. As always, you may support our Friends at Respite by providing a meal or donating needed items.
1. Companion Virtual Fellowship: Thursday, February 4 at 3:00 PM.
2. Currently, God’s Outfitters is accepting donations of winter apparel and cold weather items only. Please utilize the blue bin, located around back. It is unlocked every Monday-Thursday, 8am-3pm.
A HAYWOOD STREET REFLECTION BY: BROOK
Some weeks ago, in the midst of skyrocketing numbers of COVID cases, we made the painful, yet care-driven, decision to put our companion program on hold. To cover the countless ways our volunteers contribute to and sustain the functioning of our core ministries, staff members have spread the weight, divided the tasks, and stepped up to the challenges of this season.
A couple Sundays ago, I found a role for myself sorting clothing donations. At one point, I was organizing in the space between the clothing closet and the dining room when there was a knock at the door that leads to the back alleyway. I opened it just slightly to find one of our Friends in a bit of a frantic way. “I’m so sorry folks can’t come in right now,” I told her. “Can I help you with anything?” “Yes, can you get me a few things?” She spoke fast, but clear. “A jacket. Something nice, you know? I like leather. Leather is always great. And men’s Levi’s. Thirty-three/thirty-four. I know I’m a woman, but I like how those sit on my hips. Only Levi’s, ok? And some gloves if you have them, maybe a bra…” “OK,” I said. “Can you wait right here while I go find them?” “Yes, I’ll be RIGHT HERE.”
I searched for about 15 minutes, determined to find the perfect Levi’s 501’s. With two plastic bags of clothing, I opened the door, looking for our Friend left and right. When I didn’t see her, I let the door fall behind me and started circling the building. “Who you looking for?!” someone shouted. I told them her name. “Oh, she gone” he said. “What?” “Yea, her ride came. She left like five minutes ago.”
Sometimes I am taken aback by the exigencies of our Friends. Requests for a cup of juice or a sleeping bag can come out as a bark – get me this, get me that —even when my hands are full and I’m mid-conversation with someone else. Then, when I re-route, fulfill the need and all high and mightily follow through on the ask…they gone.
But, with a deep breath and step back I always remember this — to be homeless is to have all of the time in the world and no time at all, all at once. It is to be in the position of seizing multiple opportunities, and also, none. Often, the schedule of your day is dictated by the varying amounts of time it takes to navigate a number of lines and services and it is intercepted by public transit schedules, unforeseen crises and non-forecasted downpours of rain. Right now, our nights dip well below freezing. Meet up with me after a restless night in a makeshift tent by the river; wet socks and two-too-few layers. I can assure you, I will also bark for what I need.
At Haywood Street we call our volunteers ‘companions’ to denote the transactional exchange that happens between people on campus. From the outside, as I scrounged through bags and hanging items, it may have looked as if I was the helper. But, as our companions know, and as I was given the chance to remember, I was equally (if not more) the one who was helped. In a time when our community is void of sermons, our Friend, in her urgent asking and subsequent disappearing act, preached 1 Peter 3:8, Colossians 3:12, and 1 John 3:17. I thought my task was to find a pair of hip-hugging jeans, but my task (and the gift that was bagged up and handed to me) was the remembrance and re-connection to compassion, patience, understanding, and of course, abundant grace.