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Ten years and counting: Remembering what’s important (part 1)

May 23, 2013 marked the completion of 10 years as Executive Director.  It’s a time for reflection for the past and direction for the future.

What has influenced my most in the past ten years always has something to do with people.  All kinds of people from everywhere – most memorable are those of my street friends, some have passed, some are still around. Each has made a contribution to my own personal life and development as well as the development of OIM.

Spike had an impact on my life.  Diagnosed with full blown AIDS, Spike always asked for a ‘bag of treats’. I usually put aside some fruit for him each week, and he picked it up at the drop in.  He wouldn’t stay for long, but I would often see him at other times on the streets down town.

One week I saw him three times: once driving down town, I stopped and we chatted on Daley Street.  The next day we connected at the drop in.  The next day another outreach worker and I were on our bicycles doing outreach and Spike saw us approaching.

Tottering drunk, he shakily held out his arm, pointing at us as we approached, and yelled at the top of his voice: “Why do you keep coming to see us?  We’re not worth it.  Why do you keep coming to see us?”

Four months later it’s almost Christmas and I haven’t seen Spike for a while.  I found out where he lived, and gained access to his rooming house.  I found him in a most filthy room in a crack house, bed ridden and all alone. We connected once again.

I removed five garbage bags of refuse from that small 10’ X 8’ room, scraped moldy food from the sink and foot-long counter, did the dishes, gave him some fresh fruit and after a visit (I’ll describe that visit next blog) promised to return.

Spike taught me some things about caring for people, some about friendship, and a lot about evangelism and how to care for others – oh, I already said that.

Question: Who in your life has really influenced you in a powerful way? How?

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