Saturday, June 16, 2012
All in a Day’s Work
By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (ANS) -- After a long day officially kicking off our Joy Junction expansion campaign Together We Can, it was time to do a little nighttime street outreach.
It was just after midnight when we started driving. We soon spotted a couple of guys resting. We introduced ourselves and gave them sack lunches, waters, hand wipes and first aid kits. Both were so appreciative. One said he was newly homeless.
We continued driving through downtown. As we arrived at 2nd and Central, the streets were busy, the music loud and the bars hopping. We drove by and went south to the Albuquerque Rescue Mission, where there were a few people propped up against the wall or lying down outside.
We gave supplies to everyone. If they weren’t awake, we placed a bottle of water and a sack lunch close to them.
Just as we were about to leave, an older man carrying a backpack came up to us and asked if we were full for the night. I told him we were at capacity for single males, but had food and water. His eyes lit up. He told us he had only been homeless for the week and would spend the night walking. We prayed with him and he walked on.
An APD officer drove by. I expected him to stop and tell the homeless to move on, but happily, he drove on.
We moved on to the Amtrak station where a couple of souls were sleeping bundled up. We didn't want to wake them up so we left food and water and drove on. One of them had a wheelchair close by, and the other had a shopping cart full of “treasures.” I breathed a silent prayer, while wondering what lay in store for them during the rest of the night and the upcoming day.
We were running low on supplies. Lisa contacted Joy Junction so we could replenish our stock. While waiting for a driver to come, we took a short break in our parking lot in the heart of downtown.
Supplies arrived and we continued on. Still in downtown, we spotted a woman sleeping on a bench. We left her a sack lunch and water. We were now in an area frequented by drug users. Lisa suspected that our soundly sleeping client was a drug user as, she said, no one sleeps that soundly on the streets. We continued on.
We decided to veer off the downtown route, and head over to an area under a highway overpass. We’d found a small number of people “living” there in the past. We didn't find anyone, but did see an old and possibly abandoned camp site. As we stood there, traffic roared over us. I wondered how anyone managed to sleep.
We started back toward downtown and rechecked a previous stop. We found a regular client and his friend outside a building. We gave them food, water and blankets. They were so appreciative.
A woman came over while we were there. We also gave her supplies. Due to some previous issues, she was ineligible to stay at Joy Junction. I hope she slept well. We drove on.
Just about to call it a night we were flagged down by a woman looking for a place to stay. We managed to squeeze her in. Two-thirty in the morning was no place to be wandering the streets of Albuquerque.
A couple of blocks over we saw flashing lights and police talking to revelers. We passed by quickly, but I wondered if the night would end a lot differently than it had begun for the revelers. Was a trip to jail in their immediate future? At that time of day, it seemed the only people on the streets are partygoers or the homeless.
We drove down an alleyway by the Mission and gave a bottle of water to a man sleeping there.
By this time we were all beginning to yawn, and the consensus was it was about to time to call it a night and head home. As we headed back to our respective vehicles, I reflected how fortunate I was to have a home to which I could return. Everyone whom we’d been helping the last few hours didn’t have that choice to make. The streets were their home.
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