Sunday, April 5, 2009

Primal Scenes...

On some driveouts we experience moments that will be etched in our memories forever. Last Tuesday wewere in Lynch Park. No one seemed to be around, so we were getting ready to leave when Terry came running across University Avenue and through the park, screaming over and over again, "I am so cold! I am so hungry!"

Terry is in her thirties. She is about 4' 10" tall and weighs maybe 70 pounds. Tuesday night she was wearing thin slacks and a tank top. She recognized our van. The old grey Home Van has been prowling the streets of Gainesville looking for peoplewho need us for more than four years. Before that, it was the Breakfast Brigade Van and went to the day labor agencies, bringing Kelli Brew's wonderful home-made bread, boiled eggs, and fresh fruit to the workers.

I first met Terry a few years ago when we were touring homeless campsites with Commissioner Long. She knew him because she used to work at a dry cleaners where he dropped off his clothes. Having a public officialout in the woods made Terry nervous, so she sang gospel songs, I think to comfort herself. At one point shestopped and said to me, "When I was 12, my mother died and my father broke me in."

Many homeless women, and virtually all women who work in prostitution, as Terry does, were the victims of long-term sexual abuse in childhood. Terry has multiple serious addictions. Still, she has a bright spirit, andwe are always glad to see her. Thank God, that night we had a warm turtle-neck sweater and a jacket, in her size. Often we are tapped out of warm clothing by the time we reach Lynch Park. I am grateful to the Home Van, to all of you who make it possible, and to all the brave and beautiful people we meet out in the parks and woods of Gainesville.

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