Compassionate Responsibility

I am now in year 15 as a volunteer resource provider, former board member and mentor to homeless men on the Eastside of Lake Washington assisting Congregations for the Homeless.  It is a privilege to have spent thousands of hours talking, writing resumes, making trips to the hospital, court or job interviews, bringing spiritual counsel, visiting treatment facilities, providing financial resources and providing emotional support to CFH staff.

I have coined a phrase for dealing with homeless men:  “compassionate responsibility.” Each life has value and potential (compassion) and each person should seek a life style that leads to independence, community citizenship and productivity (responsibility).  Spending most of my time in Bellevue, I give a big shout out to the Eastside political leaders, the police (restraint, respect for the men and uphold the law) and hundreds of volunteers in the non profits and churches (providing beds, meals and emotional support).  CFH staff have a similar philosophy.  I can point to hundreds of men who have transformed their lives some after two or three attempts to get on track.

Recently KOMO Channel 4 prepared a documentary on the homeless crisis in Seattle (Seattle is Dying). The narrator accurately reported that addictions and mental health problems are central to the problem in addition to an inadequate response by city government. The number of tents and filth on the Seattle streets and byways continues to grow. The Seattle police officers commenting on the documentary tell the real story. Potential pathways to solutions: long term treatment with resource support, affordable housing and enforcing existing laws can assist those who are causing this problem.  Leaving homeless people on the streets, or providing resources for “clean” addiction practices is neither compassionate or responsible. Politicians must work with non profits, citizens, businesses, and churches to solve a complicated problem not just maintain life styles in the name of compassion only.

Today I spoke with a CFH graduate whom I had the privilege to mentor for a year.  He now has a job, a car, a brand new subsidized apartment and has made things right with his family.  He is thankful and motivated.  He is over 50. He is my friend.  And now he is showing compassion (helping others) and responsible (for his own well being).  PTL

Homelessness…Now An Agenda Item

When I started serving homeless men 14 years ago, their presence in Bellevue, WA (and Seattle) was an annoyance to the community, you know, like a paper cut on the finger.  Now in Puget Sound and Eastside Cities, it is like an ongoing agenda item on city and county council meetings, newspaper columns and on a few dedicated church ministry committees. The problem has become a gaping wound.

Another night with CFH and great food and fellowship

Tomorrow I take a heroin addicted man to detox, then hold a bible study for about 10 guys.  Tomorrow 3 coils I ordered for one of the guys for his motorcycle, will arrive from Ebay, so he can repair his 2 wheel ride and go to his $25 an hour job next week.

Tonight and tomorrow, 80-90 men will be in the winter shelter (120 last week) but state checks come in on the first and many head for parts known and unknown for a week.  35 men will be in the year around shelter fed by volunteers and supervised by Congregations for the Homeless (a positive approach to clearing the agenda).

Tomorrow I would love to see some men and couples step up to mentor these men through their tough times to a changed life. Research proves it is a key catalyst.  I am currently delivering a 6-week budget and career program to 10 men in a wonderful Christian recovery program in Snohomish.  I am privileged to mentor some of these guys…what a joy to see men on the way to productive living.  It will take us all: individuals, government, churches, nonprofit and business to solve the problem……maybe you could mark mentoring as a personal agenda item 🙂