This Meet the Need is unique. It's the first one that is about a person who needs help in a lot of little ways.
His name is Allen*, and I have his permission to post about his needs.
Allen and me on Thursday
What I first noticed about Allen when he started attending the Bible study two months ago was only that I had never seen a homeless person as unclean as he was. My friend Nancy, who came to the Bible study the second week Allen attended, didn't seem to notice the uncleanliness, and she put me to shame, placing her arm around his shoulder, just lovingly caring for him all morning.
When I left the study that morning, I couldn't stop thinking of Nancy and how she hadn't even seemed to notice the shape Allen was in, when it was all I could think about.
Nancy has four young children, but she so much wanted to be caring for others, that while they are in school, she came down to our Bible study. That also touched me a lot.
I am not sure I would do the same, I thought. It's one thing for me to go—no kids and all—but another thing entirely to be caring for such a large family and still take the time to care for the most forgotten.
For several weeks after that, Allen didn't come back to our Bible study. I did wonder where he was, but to be honest, was also glad that I didn't have to be the one to give the care.
Do you see how dirty my heart can be?
It is out of my comfort zone to love on someone who is outwardly unclean, which exposes the inward uncleanliness of my heart.
I am so accustomed to hot, running water, and shelter to protect me from the elements, that I take for granted the ability to be clean continually.
Allen came back last week. He's was there with the half-footed man. He needed help, and even though I wanted to close my heart towards him, I did not. I opened my heart to him—and not only me but also Sean, a regular volunteer in South Dallas with me.
Allen's driver's license expired in March, so since then he has had to sleep on the street. The shelter apparently doesn't take anyone with an expired license, so Allen sleeps around a corner I have never visited. For Bible study, we meet caddy-corner to the shelter, and Allen sleeps down a long street further south by some train tracks on the cold, hard ground. Every single night.
Sean and Allen
He had a friend that would stay outside with him, but she had some mental issues, so he helped her get into a shelter that could help her. He put her first, and so now he is alone again on the streets. Even though he has depression, too. When I asked Allen, "May I share your story so that maybe people will help?" he replied, "Yes, please, I just really need some help."
I got the sense that he is at his wit's end. He fell walking on the streets near the shelter earlier last week, and the police picked him up and delivered him to a hospital. But he couldn't stay at the hospital, even though he has serious back issues and is in continual pain.
His most urgent need was for the pain ... the hospital told him to get Motrin when he left to help manage it, but he has not a dollar to his name. Some high school seniors were joining me that afternoon, and they picked up Motrin for Allen. How very kind.
Perhaps the most difficult thing to hear was after Allen had told me what he needs, I asked him if he's ever able to take a shower. He couldn't even respond with words. He just got choked up and tears fell from his eyes. Can you imagine -- perhaps he hasn't had a shower in weeks, or even months.
When Allen shared his needs, it wasn't in a demanding way. Rather, it was in a way of "I really don't know what else to do. I only have one pair of clothes, the ones I am now wearing." Then I thought of it,
Oh yeah, I have never seen him in any other clothes.
I asked, "What size clothes do you wear, Allen?"
"A 28 or 29 in pants, and a medium shirt," he replied.
"What about shoe size?" I continued.
"An 8 men's shoes."
So there you have it. Here is the short list of what Allen needs:
- Medium shirt(s)
- 28 or 29 size pants
- 8 men's shoes
Sean and I are going to try and get him to the Stewpot, as they can help him get the papers together for a new ID. We will also try to find him a place he can shower. If someone wants to give bus passes, that would be helpful too. That way, he could get around the city for appointments and such. Right now, he walks, but he cannot walk far at all because of his back, so he is very limited in what he can actually get done.
Thank you all for considering helping.