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Always Welcome

There is one particular Street Friend who has knocked on our door especially often. He might be hungry one day, needs some toiletries another, a sleeping bag another … and another might be “any chance of getting a backpack to carry all my stuff?” We try to encourage our Friends to come only during service hours but in his case we have come to understand that these knocks on the door were not so much about getting things; they have really been about being able to connect with one or two of the staff he has come to know over time. He shares about life on the streets – a lot of it not very pleasant, about his family living far away – out East somewhere, about some persistent medical issues that are worrisome and painful and about his efforts to find permanent housing. He is soft-spoken, always arriving well-groomed and always carrying everything he owns in assorted carry-alls.

Regardless of what has been on their schedules, staff set aside the time to listen and encourage. Sometimes it could take this Friend a long time to depart, even when much earlier in the visit he was given the sought-after toothpaste, now in hand. One day he arrived announcing he had found a place to live! He was looking for a hamper to get set up with basic groceries. Staff celebrated this wonderful news with him and he left happy. Not too long afterward, he arrived back to let staff know the housing situation hadn’t worked out. Landlord problems. This was a long visit; he left with a backpack – he now had to, once again, carry everything he owned with him wherever he went.

Very recently he came to announce that he would be leaving us for good. He was heading East to reunite with his family. Could he have a sleeping bag for protection during the long journey? Again, staff celebrated this wonderful development – the opportunity for family reunification and fresh start. He didn’t get there. Those medical and some new legal issues got in the way.

His story is one of continual ups and downs and of hope and dashed hope. The one constant has been those staff. No matter why or how often he knocks on the door or how often his story is about the promise of change or about disappointment, they welcome him; they listen; they celebrate with him or they offer comfort. This is OIM’s ministry – for him and for everyone the staff and volunteers see in the building and on the street. I am grateful for all of them.

~Margo Dewar, Managing Director

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A testimony to the practical expression of the gospel by the staff OIM. Outstanding!

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