I pulled through to the parking lot behind the building. I was not sure which door was the one I was to enter through, but I saw some guys around the side of the building so I headed that way. I was early. The men eat dinner between 6:00 and 6:30 and it was about 6:10 or so. I walked up to the door and found it locked. Just as I dropped my arm to my side and began to think about plan B, the door opened. Greeting me was an officer from the Sheriff’s Department. He gave me a respectful “Hi!” and then asked if he could help me. I gave a quick explanation and was directed to the main/front counter where I again explained my purpose for being there; this time dropping a couple of names that I was sure they would recognize — for some reason I saw this as affording me additional credibility.
I did not find much reassurance in the look on the young man’s face. He said he was not expecting me but would check with some others there to see if they had any more information. I was not completely surprised as the plans came together rather quickly and for the communication to not completely reach those that make things happen is not necessarily uncommon. The young man suggested I could stick around for awhile and see what turns up. I decided to spend this time over by my new friend, the one with the gun.
I was ‘there’ to pick up some gentlemen and give them a ride to our Tuesday evening EWoB session. ‘There’ was the South Wilmington Street Shelter. Some conversation had occurred between a Social Worker who serves at this facility and our Minister of Community Development a few days prior. One thing lead to another and I was to pick up five guys and give them a ride to and from class. I remained there until around 7:00 and finally left by myself. I have contacted the Social Worker to figure out what fell through and hopefully next week I’ll have a minivan full of guys to take to class.
While I was standing there waiting I was struck by several things I observed. Having the biggest impact was the professionalism of the staff. Regardless of what the next person in line brought to them as far as an issues goes, they were not flustered. They were firm and clear. At about 6:30, there came an excited man running up to the counter saying that Charles was convulsing in the back room. The staff quickly gained control of the situation and within what seemed like just a few minutes emergence medical help had arrived. I am now firmly convinced that I could not perform that work. I am just not wired for it. I understand the purpose and the need, but I would self-destruct
I was also struck by the diversity of the men I saw. Some really did fit the stereotype I carry around with me, but so many others looked… well, looked like me. They did not seem particularly troubled. They were clean and seemed to sport a bright disposition. I found this at once oddly calming and deeply troubling.
Regarding the EWoB program we have had five learners join us so far. I believe three are originally from El Salvador and two from Equador. If Janelle stops by perhaps she’ll correct me if I got that wrong 😉 With the five men from the shelter that will give us ten. There have been several others who have made contact with us as well. We’re figuring that twenty, maybe thirty would be the max we could handle. The biggest structural issue we have to deal with now is to challenge the learners at whatever level they are. We are finding at least one learner will lose interest soon if she is not approached on a higher level than many of the others.
So, onward we go. While I suspect we may fumble here and there, I also suspect that that’s not the point…