HOPE Alley: The Redemption of "Blood Alley"
A couple days ago, I wrote a little protest story about a political campaign flier that was rotating around Uptown. I posted The BOLD Faced Lie! on my blog: Setting Prisoners Free. One of my facebook friends, Krista, who is a regular volunteer at CCO and lives in an affluent suburb, commented how safe she feels strolling down Clifton and has received nothing but peace and respect! Krista then made this very insightful comment, aimed at Mr. Cappleman: I hear by declare that you consider changing your perception by spending some time at CCO and you will quickly see that "HOPE Alley" is a much better fit for it!
When I read Krista’s comment, I loved the new slogan “HOPE Alley” and had to write about it. We (CCO) have already changed the street’s perception! In all actuality, the street has drastically changed, because Blood was once shed, but now Hope is the reality that is being shed! So why can’t we start calling this little street what it really and truly is; “HOPE Alley” or the “Alley of HOPE”?
There seems to be only two groups of people who continue to use the term “Blood Alley” these days: 1. People who used to live and fear “Blood Alley” in the old days (over 20 years ago) and now marvel at how the street has changed. 2. There are people who view homeless folk as a group of bums and thugs that devalue property values and retail possibilities. They use this horrible stereotype and the term “Blood Alley” to create immense fear and opposition.
I will not get into all my thoughts about the negative connotations of using the terms “muggings”, “violence” and “Blood Alley” in one sentence on a political flier; I wrote about that in “The BOLD Faced Lie!” This has to do with all the HOPE and redemption that now arises from this tiny dark street in Uptown that once justified the term “Blood Alley” or “Murder Alley”!
So here is the probing question: if Clifton does not justify the name “Blood Alley”, how does it justify the name: “HOPE Alley”?
HOPE comes in a ton of different ways, at different times to a huge variety of different people. These people are surprised by the hope they receive. Me included! The people I am talking about are our homeless residents, past residents, homeless folk who live on the street who come for assistance, the donors that compassionately give, the countless groups that venture from other states and countries to volunteer with us, the many local volunteers and all the staff who are blessed to be able to serve at CCO. These people include me!
HOPE comes when a resident moves into her own apartment.
HOPE comes when a father is united with his children.
HOPE comes when someone had been sleeping under a viaduct and we give them a warm bed.
HOPE comes when the fragile man finally gets to see a doctor.
HOPE comes when she gets to meet the outreach worker, so she can start dealing with her PTSD.
HOPE comes when he starts receiving his very important medicine.
HOPE comes when she can finally get her birth certificate and State ID.
HOPE comes when we help this gentleman pay his security deposit and he can live independently.
HOPE comes when that empty belly is full and satisfied.
HOPE comes when we give a woman a bus card, so she can keep her job.
HOPE comes when we send many people to training or school, giving them opportunities to work
HOPE comes when you know you are safe from the war-torn country you just escaped from.
HOPE comes when you know you are safe from the sex trade you just escaped from.
HOPE comes when we hook the struggling mentally ill veteran up with the appropriate outreach worker, who gets them into supportive housing.
HOPE keeps on coming, in so many ways; too many to mention….
HOPE comes when youth groups come from a small town and realize that urban homeless folk are beautiful human beings
HOPE comes when you see these two groups communicating and enjoying each others company
HOPE comes when the barriers and stereotypes are utterly smashed
HOPE comes when donations come rolling in
HOPE comes when a homeless man is able to wear brand new socks, after wearing rotten socks for weeks
HOPE comes when a woman is able to get a new backpack to store all her belongings
HOPE comes when a man is able to wear a suit to a job interview
HOPE comes when the donor sees how much pleasure her items bring
HOPE keeps on coming, in so many ways; too many to mention….
HOPE is realized when someone is willing to shake your grubby hand
HOPE is realized when someone is willing to listen to your endless woes
HOPE is realized when someone is willing to forget about your checkered past
HOPE is realized when someone is willing to give you a chance, and hire you with that felony
HOPE is realized when someone is willing to seek and find you, so a new opportunity can be created
HOPE is realized when someone is willing to visit you in a hospital
HOPE is realized when someone is willing to hug you, despite your stinking clothes
HOPE is realized when someone is willing to squat amongst the pigeon poop and listen to you grieve
HOPE is realized when someone is willing to venture into the line of fire, to bring about peace
HOPE is realized when someone is willing to seek and bring about forgiveness, when none is thought possible
HOPE is realized in so many ways, too many to mention, because there are people willing to promote HOPE…..
HOPE is realized because staff, volunteers and clients follow the example of Jesus; we are not willing to lump everyone into a stereotype, but we try to view and love each and every person individually. We realize that every person is unique and needs to be treated compassionately and respectfully.
Blood is rarely found in Clifton, but HOPE is constantly seen in “HOPE Alley.” To conclude; I would like to quote the words of a few residents, past residents and homeless folk that live on the street. These words are often accompanied with a handshake, hug or pumped fists. They come up to our staff, volunteers and myself and say words similar to these, “you guys at Cornerstone are different. You care about us. You love us. You don’t judge us. You make us feel wanted. You treat us like human beings. You are an example of Jesus to us. Thank you. You give us HOPE!”