Click to Read a Note from Rev. Joe Colaizzi, Executive Director
I wish you could see what I see.
I like to step outside the KCRM Men’s Center around 3:00 in the afternoon whenever I can. That’s about the time that men begin to gather on the sidewalk to reserve a bed for the night.
We’re always busy here, but at 3:00 p.m. things really spring to life! If you walked around the Mission with me today you just might see …
… Food service staff chopping vegetables and heating the ovens to prepare an evening meal for 140 hungry men while volunteers set our dining room tables.
… Nurse Liz seeing patients in the clinic while our case managers engage with clients who need help navigating a legal issue or finding housing or work.
… Chaplains and shelter staff beginning to mingle among the men waiting outside — welcoming some who are brand new to this experience and building trust with others who have been our guests before.
If the recent past is any indication, the men who who gather here this afternoon will include both the highly educated and high school dropouts. Some may have lost a long-term job and struggled to find something new; others have tried to scrape by with day labor. Some have given up.
Many stay with us so they can save enough to rent an apartment or send a few dollars back to family. Others have burned too many bridges and lost contact with loved ones. Some are veterans dealing with PTSD. Others contend with mental health issues. Many have a history of drug or alcohol addiction, often dating back to adolescence.
But at 3:00 p.m. when they begin to gather at KCRM’s door, we won’t separate them into Deserving and Undeserving of our help. We won’t ask them what they believe or even if they will promise to do better before we serve them.
Rather, if they come sober and don’t pose a threat to others, they will be welcomed to stay, to eat and rest until our dining room is full and every bed is occupied.
They count on us and that’s why they gather every day. They know a good meal and clean bed is waiting for them, but the reality is to most of these men it’s just as important that also waiting are people who genuinely care, who listen, and who talk to them like a friend talks to a friend.
Sometimes when I stand out on the sidewalk or sit next to one of our guests in our dining hall, the conversation comes around to people like you. Sometimes a first-time guest will watch volunteers serving plates of food to each person at every table and he will ask if all these people work here.
I love to tell him that these people aren’t paid to serve him dinner, but they take time out of their evening because they care and because he’s important to them. And then I get to tell him about all the others whose generosity has helped provide all that he sees and all he receives.
I wish you could see the look on his face.
I hope you know how grateful I am for you, and how humbled I am that you stand with us and help us to be ready every day. I know you care. We need you and we can’t do this without you. Please consider making a gift today!
Rev. Joe Colaizzi
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