“Let a man humble himself till he is like this child, and he will be the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven.”
I read recently that when one person does something helpful for another and others see it, often other people join in or they go off to find someone else to help. I think that Haywood Street Congregation appears to have that capacity as a magnet for good. It started out nearly ten years ago with one young man offering friendship to those on the street. A church that had a building heard about his vision for a place for those who had no place and offered the unused building to him. From there a man who had been in food service heard about the young man and sought him out. Together they cooked up some hot dogs and served them in the parking lot.
The young man asked when people would like to come into the building and a friend told him mid-day/mid-week was the hardest time for him to stay sober so Worship was offered at noon on Wednesday. Another minister needed a place for the extra clothes he had received and asked if he could bring them to Haywood. The Outfitters was born. Meanwhile, the hotdogs-in-the-parking lot had moved inside and were served around round tables, family style. Soon the restaurants in town heard about the Welcome Table and wanted to cook and serve there. One of our friends was homeless and had just gotten out of the hospital and had no where to go to finish getting well. A doctor in the congregation helped open Respite, a place for people who needed more care and had no place to go to get care. The story continues. There are Harm Reduction specialists who have joined the community, acupuncturists who heal, artists that teach and artists that simply encourage, storytellers, barbers, and now a group of very special artists are painting a fresco of the Beatitudes with friends from the congregation as the models. The other gifts are too numerous to name, but so many want to give because they see others giving.
So that brings me to a very special group, the Kindergarten class of IC Imagine school. Last year their teacher emailed me and asked if they could donate some socks. We always need socks I told her and so I went to visit and they loaded my car full of socks they had bought with money they earned doing chores. Again last week Miss Angie wrote and said they had been shopping and could they present the socks to me. I have included a photo of the teachers with the socks. Because we had no way to obtain permission to post the children’s photos, they are not pictured, but I can tell you there must have been fifty of them on the floor ready to hear about the people who would receive the socks and to ask why they needed so many of them. They want to do it again next year. As they crossed the parking lot on the way back to the school after purchasing the socks, a man stopped the teachers to ask what they had been doing at the K-Mart next door with all those children. They told him. He donated $50 so they could go back and buy more. They did. Haywood is a magnet for good. Everyone can be. It just takes a generous heart and an openness to others’ needs.