Below you will find a personal letter from me to the homeless community that I passed out on last night’s driveout. I know some of you work with homeless people, so I encourage you to print out the letter and share it with your homeless friends and clients, since we never see everybody on any one driveout. In March I will be reviving the Home Van Newsletter and telling you more about what we are doing and how people can participate. In the meantime, I want all our homeless friends to know that we are still going to be here for them, except in a different way, and I want them to know how much they have meant to me and how much they have given me.
Dear friends of the homeless community,
As of March 1, when the Bo Diddley Community Plaza is shut down for remodeling, the Home Van is going to change from doing driveouts to being a food pantry for homeless people only. Our food pantry will be open every Wednesday afternoon from 1-5 and every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., except for the first week of the month. Even on five Thursday months, we will be open the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Thursday of each week and on the preceding Wednesday afternoon. Our
house is at 307 SE 6th Street. Many of you have been there. Many of you also have my phone number, in case of emergencies. It is 352-372-4825. So we will
continue to be here for you, except in a different way.
The money we save by ending the driveouts we are going to put into getting tents and tarps so people can move out to Dignity Village. I know some of you have beautiful, well-established campsites and are under no threat of eviction at this time. You will most likely choose to stay where you are and pick up supplies at our food pantry. Those of you who stay in the downtown area may be facing very hard times with the closing of the plaza and perhaps even more efforts on the part of the authorities to remove homeless people from the downtown area. I am convinced that you will be much better off at Dignity Village, where you will be within easy walking distance of hot meals, water, showers, laundry facilities, and other services. Dignity Village is not perfect but some very good people are working hard to make it into a good place with self-governance and safety from eviction and other threats. You can help make that happen.
We are going to miss doing these driveouts. I will admit to you, my dear friends, that some of this is old age. I am fast approaching 70 and have been doing these driveouts for almost 13 years. I’m tired and need to take life easier. But I also think that supporting Dignity Village is the right thing to do.
Finally, and most importantly, I want to thank all of you for all you have done for me. You have done more for me than I have done for you. I am not the same person I was when I started doing these driveouts. I have learned more about love, courage, compassion, patience and faith from you in these 13 years than in the whole rest of my life. At the beginning, I was mainly concerned with myself, and was even someone who would complain about having to do housework. I didn’t know that God had blessed me beyond measure with a house to live in. I learned that, and so much more, from you, my dear and wonderful friends.