Just an Ordinary Day
by Mary Leach-Sumlin, Associate Director
Good Morning everybody (or individual names are sometimes used as our morning greeting)!
Shenise writes Thank You notes to our donors, Shinichi works rapidly and with concentration making candles, Carmen packages orders from internet sales, Deacon Steve is attending to administrative duties, Cynthia and I get ready for an ordinary day of outreach.
Our usual streets: Lisbon, North Avenue, Atkinson, we see familiar faces, and new faces.
How are you today? What’s your name? Here’s food. How can we help you? God Bless yous, stay safe, and be carefuls are exchanged.
Our journey goes from the North to the South side of the City by way of 27th Street. We talk about who we haven’t seen lately, we wonder, how she is doing? We hope that she is safe, possibly working on leaving the life on the streets.
We’re now approaching Chambers, we mention the youngish white woman we often see. She looks out of place, hungry, grateful for food and kind words. We wonder what is her name…..Becky? No… too stereotypical, we call her Amanda.
We pass the area where we usually see her. Cynthia sees someone slumped over, we circle around the block. It’s her, the woman, who we’ve given the name of Amanda. Maybe she is tired, been up a few days? Cynthia calls out to her, I blow the horn.
No response, we’re really concerned. An older man on a scooter passes by. “Mr. Big” (he looks like Ron Isley but down on his luck), says “She’s just high off that stuff.” We decide to call “the people”. I call 911, we’re both nervous, Cynthia sees some movement, takes a bottle water from a lunch, a towel from a hygiene pack, wets it, goes over to her and rubs the back of her neck with the cold towel.
I report the incident and give our location to the operator. She connects me to the Fire Dept. I’m on hold at least one minute, but it seems like 15. Someone comes on the line and says that it has been reported and they’re on their way.
There is a Fire Station five blocks away. The waiting seems like an eternity. The Ambulance arrives. Now people come over, Mr. Big again, another man who calls out to her and tells the EMTs that he knows her.
They try to lay her down and Praise God she wakes up, crying. Cynthia leaves a couple of lunches for her and we give our cards to the other man. We ride off.
We’re now on the Southside.
Women on National, women on Greenfield. We talk to a woman who is in the contemplative stage. She says that she’s gonna call us, she just hasn’t yet. She told us she has a job in Fond du Lac and is going back later in the week.
More God Bless yous, stay safes and now a keep in touch with us and let us know how you’re doing. She says she will.
We roll on.
We come upon “Oreo” who used to be on the north side. She’s hungry, wants a new wig. She has junk food from the store. We give her something a little more nutritious. I ask her to put the trash in the bag and not throw it all over the sidewalk, with a smile - in a mother’s joking, but serious tone. She promises that she will. Cynthia will look for a wig for her.
We roll on.
We see “Herbie”, a homeless man who is usually at the Speedway on Greenfield. He’s sitting on the steps of a burned house. He said he used to live there. He talks to Cynthia and is happy to see her. We always gave him a lunch and he and Cynthia would have a cigarette break, well in the pre-pandemic time. We give him the last lunch and he tells us about a recent illness, difficulty with medical care during the pandemic and his need to get the vaccine. He says he will. Sometimes people just want to be talked to matter of factly like all is well. He wishes us safety and a good day.
We roll on.
Back to Lisbon to get ready for tomorrow. Another ordinary day.
Please, God, change the minds of those who have suffered and now oppress. Enable us to help One somebody One more day.