Four years ago, when our family had just moved to the bay area, we took BART into the city to see a ballet and were struck by the number of homeless people we saw on our short walk. There was such an incredible need, we realized we had to something.
The pastor of a church near the one we attended when we lived in Virginia had formed a coalition of churches who distributed food to the homeless every week and we had regularly participated so we decided, why not do this ourselves? That’s how it all began. Every week we’d pack several gallon ziplock bags with a bologna sandwich, a bag of chips, a rice krispie treat, a banana, water, and a soda and drive into the tenderloin to hand them out. At first it was just us, but then Amy and her family joined us, and we were able to start giving out 48 meals a week. Now, other people from church have begun to support us and we’re up to 60 or 70 meals.
We know we aren’t solving the problem, and that really isn’t our goal. We just know that they’re hungry and the simple answer is to give them food. We’ve been doing this so long now that the people have gotten to know us and become our friends.
We always stick to the same area, so we’re a fixture in what is really a village of homeless people. We see people of all ages, from 18 year old kids to elderly people who work as secretaries in the city but can’t afford housing. They get excited when they see us and they look out for us. One guy refers to our car as his car and he hugs it whenever he sees it.
Recently, several of the teens from church have started coming with us, and it’s a really great experience for them. The teens that go with us are awesome, and by going, they realize that helping people is not that difficult. They become unafraid of dealing with these guys, become more sympathetic, it changes their whole view.
This work is certainly not for everyone, but it’s become such a fabric of our life that I don’t know what we’d do on a Sunday if we didn’t do this. A lot of people see us as helping them, but it’s a two way street. We get a lot out of it as well. We get to make new friends and every Sunday night we return home with a new energy. Even though some people don’t respect them as human, they also give a lot to us.