Monday, January 04, 2016

I'm Kevin.

Running down to the corner market for black pepper & rosemary for a winter stew the boyfriend is creating in our little, warm kitchen, I saw a man perched on the concrete divide, separating the four-lane flow of traffic from the walkway outside the store, lighting a cigarette. I hurried past, hoping he wouldn't talk to me.

On my way out, he asked me for money to help out the homeless. I gave him the dollar I had in cash, explaining that I had used a card inside. "Can you buy a homeless guy a bag of chips on that card?" he asked. "Doritos," he replied to my asking what he would like. Everyone knows that one can't eat Doritos without a drink, so at his request, I bought him a coke, too.

When I gave him his snack, he looked me in the eye and said, "Thanks." Then as I walked away I turned as he said, "I'm Kevin."

I'm Rebecca.  Nice to meet you.

The humanity of that moment continues to resonate. That the man perched on the edge wanted to be more than a homeless dude on the corner, that he has a name.

I turned back and said, "I'm Rebecca. It's nice to meet you." And getting back in the car, realizing that I wish I could have stopped to hear Kevin's story, but as a woman, standing in a dark parking lot, it wasn't safe for me.

And realizing that L.A. has had a lot of cold nights so far, with El Nino rain to come tomorrow. So. One thing at a time, to take steps to deal with the overwhelming feelings of this world being too much.

If you can, give to Recycled Resources to support the work of the Northeast Los Angeles Winter Access Center opened up this month in the All Saints Episcopal Church as the only homeless shelter in Northeast LA.

"The overnight shelter has been using church pews as beds for up to 50 people. But in a sad twist, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority has deemed those pews a potential safety hazard, which has disqualified the shelter from receiving emergency funding from the city. According to Eastsider LA, the Northeast Los Angeles Winter Access Center is losing out on about $75,000 in city funding due to the decision.

"Officials with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority declared that the church pews being used as makeshift beds were too narrow, and could pose a safety risk. A spokesman for First District Councilmember Gil Cedillo said the LAHSA was concerned about people "potentially rolling over, falling, and hurting themselves."

"When the city announced last week it would be setting aside $12.4 million in emergency funding for winter shelters, officials at Recycled Resources, the group operating the NELA shelter, hoped to receive $75,000 to maintain their operation through the long El Niño winter. Unfortunately the pew issue meant the shelter was not up to LAHSA standards, and now they will receive nothing. They had counted on that money to pay for food, bedding, and most importantly heat during the cold winter months. They will continue with or without the funding as long as they can. The shelter currently has a capacity to house 50 people for the night, but its resources will be stretched thinner as the 380 homeless in Highland Park and 800 total homeless in Northeast LA look for a warm place to sleep when the persistent rains begin."

Help Recycled Resources meet their goal.  Donate here.