The late Erma Bombeck once wrote, “I live in a subdivision so conservative that when my women’s club celebrated diversity day, the best we could come up with was two fat ladies and a Democrat.” Going into the Home Van experience, I was on the opposite end of the spectrum. My diversity might have been a Mary Kay distributor and a Methodist. I thought I was an advocate for diversity, but I didn’t know anything about it. I stayed in my demographic of old hippies/radicals/artists etc.
Early on we realized that we needed to have respect for all the opinions we encounter among our homeless friends. If one of the old vets told me that Rush Limbaugh would be an excellent choice for President of the United States, I made a conscious practice of listening from my Buddha spot, where all is sacred. One of my special memories is the day Country came to see me. Country, when he was sober, was the epitome of a southern gentlemen, and an especially kind person. In my livingroom I have a small collection of Virgin Mary art. Country looked it over, turned to me, folded his hat across his chest, and said, “Miz Arupa, I know you don’t know this, but you are committing the sin of Mariolatry. Only pictures of Jesus should be on the wall because He is our Lord and Savior. If you leave these pictures up here, you might die and go to Hell forever. I don’t mean no disrespect, Miz Arupa, I just thought you oughter know.”
I thanked him. He cared about me.
We are living in a time when civility is becoming a lost art. I know it’s possible to learn from everyone, because humans have much more in common with each other than we have different, no matter what map of reality we are using. It’s trying to remember that in the midst of storms– that’s the hard part.
UPDATE ON “k”
Several of you have inquired about K, the young man who had aged out of foster care and nearly became homeless after a bruising encounter with his biological parents. K now has a place to live and a job. All he needed was a leg up.
BUG SPRAY AND BOTTLED WATER
Same topic as last month. The woods are already swarming with mosquitoes. They hit there, especially along the banks of Sweetwater Branch, much earlier than in town. Bug spray and bottled water will be our greatest need for the next few months.
TRIUMPHS AND TRAGEDIES
I spend more time in this newsletter recounting triumphs than tragedies. I want to celebrate the accomplishments of our homeless citizens, as well as the courage, love and patience so many of them demonstrate. I want everyone on this list to know that you are making a difference – in the donating and volunteering you do for us and other organizations, and on your own, you are saving lives and bringing happiness to homeless people.
There is tragedy also. My husband said to me recently that he can scarcely bear to bike by the downtown plaza during the later evening, because it such a tragedy – people everywhere wrapped in old blankets, people screaming, bundles scarcely identifiable on the sidewalk, except that he knows there are human beings inside them. The most vulnerable and disabled – by mental illness or addictions or both – basically live on the plaza. They don’t have the ability to set up a tent. They are in a free fall through life. Not because they are worse than anyone else – whose life has not been touched by mental illness or addictions? – but because they have nothing. Please keep these children of God in your prayers.
Peace and love to everyone,
The Home Van needs tents, tarps, bottled water, bug spray,Vienna sausages, creamy peanut butter, jelly, candles, white tube socks, batteries, and games. Call 352-372-4825 to arrange for drop off. Financial donations to the Home Van should be in the form of checks made out to Citizens for Social Justice, Inc., earmarked for the Home Van, and mailed to 307 SE 6th Street, Gainesville, FL 32601, or can be made online at http://homevan.blogspot.com/
THE HOMEVAN IS A PROJECT OF CITIZENS FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE, INC. (FDACSREGISTRATION #CH35643). A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL-FREE (800-435-7352) WITHIN THE STATE.REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL, OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE.