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Seen and Heard

On the drive home from doing street outreach one night, my husband and I began sharing stories and talking about all the street friends that we had run into while we were out.

My husband began sharing how he ran into our one street friend named Andy and that Andy had asked for a comb, but my husband and a few other volunteers didn’t have any on the cart that they were pulling. My husband knew that I sometimes would see Andy at the Door Outreach or the Innercity Arts Program, so he told Andy that we would set a comb aside for him for the next time we would see him.

That following Tuesday while I was at the OIM building, my husband sent me a reminder to grab a comb for Andy. While the Door Outreach was happening, I spotted Andy waiting in line to get some food from our downstairs food pantry. I greeted him and then began writing down his order. As I was finishing up writing it, I looked at Andy and said “My husband mentioned that he ran into you the other night and said that you were looking for a comb? I have a comb saved for you if you would like me to grab it!”

Andy normally looks at the ground when I talk to him, but his eyes immediately looked up at me looking quite surprised but began smiling. He was beyond excited for a small plastic comb and the thought that someone cared to remember such a small thing.

I hear so many of our street friends talk about how much people walk past them without acknowledging or looking their way and making them feel unseen and unheard. They feel like the world doesn’t care for them and it’s heartbreaking to hear but that day, at Door Outreach, Andy got to see how much he is seen. He is heard and so is every street friend of ours that we meet on the street or at the door.

It fills our hearts with so much joy when we see our street friends smiling as they see us approaching with our red vests. They are beyond grateful for the food we give but also the laughter and joyful conversations. Through our volunteers here at OIM, our street friends come to know that they are seen, and they are heard.

~Marissa – Youth Program Assistant

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