A heart for the homeless

Published 4:07 pm Tuesday, September 13, 2016

By Jean Brody, Sun Columnist 

On Tuesday I go to see my cardiologist. I am anxious to go and hopefully get a good report.

There is one thing I do not like when I go there. His office is in downtown Denver and, I kid you not, on way too many corners is a street person. Some have families and some even have dogs and it upsets me for days.

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Now, I know that there are those out there who are fake and who work in a controlled group (or so I am told). For those I guess I shouldn’t feel sorry for, even though in my heart I even feel bad for those who have to do such a thing, period. But what about those who really are hungry, who really do have a baby somewhere or a hungry dog?

This puts me in mind of a late chilly afternoon when we still lived in Silada, Colorado, I had been to see a doctor in Denver and a friend was bringing me back home to Salida. We were riding along the highway when what we saw hurt me a lot. There, walking single file, were a young man and a young woman, each one carrying a baby. Behind them was a little boy running, trying to keep up, holding nobody’s hand as he should have been. Their clothes were ragged and all they had they held on their backs in sacks.

It stunned me. Why in this world would a young family be walking on a highway at dusk? Since we were almost to the next town, my friend suggested they were going there for a free meal and maybe a place to sleep that night. Can you just imagine such a thing? I cannot and this image always slips into my mind and heart every darn time I have to go to a big city for anything.

I know when I lived on the island of Key Biscayne, Florida, we had one street person, a bag lady named Helen. For years she and her grocery cart full of her belongings lived among us on the street. Other homeless persons tried to come to the Key but Helen chased them away. Key Biscayne belonged to her!

Since my husband Gene and I owned and operated a bakery and health food store, I saw a way to help her. First, I agreed to leave my inside lights on all night so she would feel safe enough to sleep in front of the store where it was light.  Second, every morning I gave her a fresh muffin and hot coffee. I even let her use the bakery bathroom when she needed to, the only business on the Key who would even let her inside. You see, she did not smell good. Her clothes were seldom washed and her skin was leathery from grime and tropic sun. However, I found love in my heart for Helen and found it possible not to judge her.

Here we are living in the strongest, most powerful country in the world and yet, on way too many a street corner in way too many cities there are people with no home or food.

God bless you in Winchester. Instead of just worrying about it, you have done something huge about this problem. Rachel Grigsby is like a daughter to me and I know she has been an integral part in the establishment of your facility for housing and feeding the homeless. Just reading about the growth of this idea in our town puts a lump in my throat. I pray you can be an example to follow in many other towns.

The view from the mountain is wondrous.