Reflections from Laura

Q. Can you share a memory from Haywood Street’s very first year? Why do you think this memory has stayed with you?

A. I started out as a volunteer with the clothes closet. We were able to start our closet with a large donation of overflow clothes from the Church of the Advocate, in December of 2009. One rainy day when we had transportation lined up, a group of us loaded clothes from their closet into ours. There were piles of clothes everywhere. We had these gigantic, heavy-duty cardboard boxes that all the clothes were tossed into, and you could literally fit two or three people inside a box along with the clothes. I vividly remember standing inside one of the boxes with Mike, tossing clothes out and laughing. It was fun. It was chaos. And it was an unexpected friendship formed with a member of Church of the Advocate, whose life circumstances were quite different from mine.

Q. What is one of the best changes you’ve seen over the years?

A. One of our best moves was switching from a serving line to family style table service at the Downtown Welcome Table. Even though our intention was always for folks to share a meal together, there is a big difference between getting your food on a tray and finding a place at a table; and sitting together enjoying bread and salad while waiting to be served the main course. Conversation more naturally springs up when you can turn to your neighbor and chat about biscuits like your grandmother used to make, or just ask somebody to pass the ranch dressing. Table service requires more volunteers, which is a good thing when the intention is to give more people a chance to participate.

Q. What keeps you coming back to the home of Holy Chaos?

A. I think it’s that joy and brokenness co-exist here in such clear and tangible ways. Both are present on any given day, often in the same moment. That resonates deeply with my own experience of life, the human condition, the faith journey.

Q. What is the Haywood Street you envision five years from now?

A. For me, the vision of this place has always included the idea that every single person who walks through the doors becomes a part of the ministry, finds a way to participate in making the whole thing happen again. My hope is that in five years we reach that place, where everybody takes a turn at both giving and receiving.