Twenty Minutes with an Eclectic Crazy Community!

It's always unusual, quite eclectic, somewhat daunting, and often times blessed experience to enter our humble doors at Cornerstone Community Outreach for the first time?

Bobby makes the long commute on the L-train from the southside. We engage in a nice conversation, he tells me his dilemma and I give him a check to pay for this month's rent. He asks if he can get some food as well, because things are very tight and its next to impossible to survive off a monthly veterans benefit of only $123.00! I say "Yes! Of course. Not a problem!"

We have to go downstairs to xerox all his documents. I am bombarded by a few of our more flamboyant daily visitors who endlessly holler all their requests.

As I enter the door, Lateef surrounds me and loudly proclaims with his Nigerian accent, "don't you love me no more Jeremy? Why you always ignoring me? You need to give me some time?" I smile at him and say, "you know I love you, but I'm with someone else right now!" Lateef, in true Lateef fashion, just keeps loudly begging for my attention.

Shawn, who's louder and taller than Lateef, tells him to shut up and beckons my attention. They intensely argue with a somewhat friendly banter. As I start photocopying, Shawn notices the new guy who came in with me, he's standing a couple steps away with an awkward and puzzled grin. He yells at Bobby, "hey guy, watch this!" Shawn grabs my goatee, tilts his head back, opens his mouth as wide as possible and screams "aaaaahhhhhHHHHH" and then erupts with his ear piercing laughter!

As Shawn is in the midst of doing daily routine with my goatee, Lateef is telling me I need to clean Shawn's filthy clothes! He keeps saying, "look at them! You need to do something about that! Wash them! Give him some new clothes!"

Shawn holds out his fist, and our brief new visitor smiles and exchanges friendly fist-pumps with him. Then Shawn does his eccentric noisy goatee routine again. I give Bobby his original documents and we head back out the door, as Lateef begs for my utmost attention. Shawn just kept on hooping, hollering and exploding with laughter!

The auditors at the table are busy calculating numbers and enjoying the never dull first floor show. Their continual looking-up and grinning seemed to indicate some form of amusement anyway!

Bobby quietly asks, "how 'bout that note for some food?"
"Oh yeah, that's right, come with me!" We wander outside, I find security and ask them to take him to the CCO cafeteria to get him a few bags of food, where I'm sure he had another unique experience!

$123 a month certainly isn't enough to pay rent, buy food and pay for medical expenses! Today, he walked away from CCO with his rent paid and enough food to last a couple of weeks. He hopped on the "red line" blessed by the reality of receiving material help in what I now call "Hope Alley!"

Bobby spent only twenty minutes in Clifton Avenue. As he wandered away, I couldn't help, but wonder, what about everything else he saw and received? What impression did we leave on him?

As we shook hands, he said his thanks and I'll probably never see him again. Yet, it seemed to me, he enjoyed his crazy eclectic 20 minutes. He seemed to enjoy our unusual, yet very compassionate, little homeless community. He seemed blessed by the fascinating people who occupy our time and space everyday! He seemed blessed by our small minute efforts to be Jesus to the "least of these".

This day; Bobby was blessed...

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