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Saturday, February 13, 2016

Warmth on a cold day.

Today was another mission with the Akron Snow angels, and it was a cold one.   It was cold enough that a few of us jokingly celebrated when we broke into the double digit temperatures.   Yeah…..10 degrees.   That’s only about 65 degrees colder than comfortable for me.   A 15 mph wind didn’t help it to feel any warmer either.  On the good side of things, more shelters are open during weather like this meaning that we didn’t come in contact with as many people today.   It’s my understanding that not seeing people typically means that they are safe and warm.   That’s a good thing.

The two people that I talked to the most seemed to be sharing the same lesson with me.  The first one was Johnaton.   He was polite and courteous guy, but also seemed as if he was newer to the homeless community which is tough to see.   He had a fairly warm jacket and hat, but was in sweatpants and sneakers which are great for summertime workouts, but bad for keeping warm.   So, he and I walked around to the different stations looking for some much needed boots and jeans for him.   Unfortunately, we came up empty on those for him today. (We are working on something for next week hopefully).   As we stopped at the stations though, I noticed something astonishing.   I’d ask if he needed another hat, sweatshirt, or another similar item.   “Nope. I’m good on that.   I’d just really like some jeans and boots.”

The next guy had jeans and a jacket, but no hat, scarf, or decent cold weather shoes.   I asked him, “could you use a scarf”.    HIs response was simple, “I’ll be ok.   I don’t want to take one if it can help someone else.”.   Finally, after convincing him that seeing him without one was making me cold, we went down and picked out a scarf and hat for him.  As we were getting ready to leave, he stopped and looked at me and said, “I’m not sure I got your name.”   I introduced myself and without hesitation, he extended his hand, looked me square in the eyes, gave the the type of handshake that you’d expect from a high ranking official and said, “It’s nice to meet you Josh.   I’m Lee.”   Wow.   A stand up guy in my book.   

Johnathon and Lee really made me think long and hard about things today.   These guys only wanted what they really needed for survival.   That’s it.   Just things to make sure that they can live to fight another day.   It made me ask the question, what do I really need?   Although it is a simple question, it seems like it requires a very complex answer……..or does it?     

Both of these guys were very cold yet still had wonderfully warm hearts.   In a short time, they taught me a lot about being “human”.   I’m looking forward to seeing them next week and seeing what lessons they have in store for me.   

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