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I noticed an article on wired news this morning about the increasing number of homeless people using the internet. The article was very interesting and it rang true with my own experience recently. It only takes one trip to a public library downtown to notice that there are indeed more and more homeless folks in the computer labs all the time. Being small minded and ignorant, I had assumed they were just playing solitaire, but it turns out that a lot of them are blogging. Evidently the increasing availability of internet access via public libraries and WiFi hotspots is resulting in a lot of homeless folks reaching out and finding a voice over the world wide web. Who would have thought?

One such blog is written by Kevin Barbieux, a man living in a shelter in Nashville. I took a minute to read a few of his posts today and he seems to have a very intelligent and well-rounded perspective on homelessness. I would highly recommend you check it out if you have the time.

Here is a snippet from one of his posts:

So, you ask yourself, “Self, what can I do? How can I help homeless people, even though I don’t have much?”

Well, there IS something you can do. There are many things that homeless people usually do without, which sometimes seem insignificant, that homeless would be very happy to receive.

This is a project you can do rather inexpensively – and you can make this a project to do with friends, or your Church group, and share the expense – and you can include people of all age groups.

Get some paper lunch bags and fill them with little goodies. This is just a list of things I can think of, that everyone on the streets would need and appreciate. You might have your own good ideas too. — “travel size” tooth paste and tooth brush and deodorant. A pair of new or clean socks (it’s hard to keep feet healthy on the street) nail clippers, a comb, a bar of soap, gloves when it’s cold out, a disposable razor, etc. Then add something special, like little Halloween size candies, a personal note that says “I care”. You could even decorate the bags with drawings of happy faces and hearts – yeah, even mean ol’ grumpy homeless guys like that kind of stuff – even if they don’t admit it.

Once you have your care packages together, take them to where homeless people hang out – wherever it’s safe for you too. If you aren’t a proper adult, bring along proper adult supervision. And personally hand out the packages. Just try to plan to have enough for each homeless person.

Now it does happen sometimes, when you do this, that a street person will then ask you for something you don’t have, or you are uncomfortable with giving. Just tell them that the packages are all you have right now, and that you’re sorry you can’t help more. Sometimes they will try to make you feel guilty so they can get more out of you. Be polite but firm. If you set, and hold to your limits, they will respect you for it. This is a great way of giving. I have received such packages myself – they’ve always been a blessing.

Here are the pictures I promised, click for larger copies:





















We had our first annual chili cook-off last Sunday. We loaded up several vehicles worth of stuff and headed a few blocks over to the El Ray apartments to share the event with our neighbors. Our van was somehow designated to transport all the chili, so Gretchen kept her eyes closed while I drove gingerly with one eye on the 25 crock pots behind us. God was merciful in holding back the rain all afternoon and we were able to enjoy several hours of fellowship together and with the tenants at El Ray. Our primary purpose in holding this event was to begin familiarizing our neighbors with Grace Church a little more, and I would consider Sunday to be a success in that regard. At least a couple dozen folks came out to eat and talk with us there in the parking lot and many of our members were blessed to have lengthy conversations with El Ray residents.

A special thanks to all who were willing to bring food, and to Bob Hollins for his willingness to serve us all by loading and transporting all of our tables and chairs in his truck. The winner of the Chili Cook-off has been decided by our celebrity judges Ed Winstead and Bill Onesty and will be announced on Sunday.

I’ll post some pictures of the even here when I get them.

Our regular English classes are suspended for the rest of June. We figured that everyone could use a little break and it might be beneficial to promote a restart date in July and draw in a few more students and volunteers. Looking back, it’s been a good five months of classes. We learned quite a bit about what not to do and what we can do better next time. I enjoyed the experience immensely, and I think that at least a few folks know a little more English than they did in January. Thank you everyone who volunteered their time and prayers.

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  • John 6:51
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