Richard is hard to miss. No matter what the weather, he has on his puffy coat. He is carrying his belongings in several plastic bags. When I first saw Richard at Warm-up Breakfast, he wasn’t talking to anyone very much and his speech was often confused. But I started saying “Hello, Richard” every time I saw him. And when he came to Friday Community Dinner, I did the same.
One night I saw him leave but he had left one of his bags behind. When I pointed it out, he said he’d be back. I went back to cleaning the tables and when I left, I noticed the bag was gone. As I drove away that night, I saw Richard crossing the street with 2 of his bags, leaving one by the street light. He came back for the other one. You see, Richard couldn’t carry all his bags at the same time, so he was carrying them in a leapfrog fashion.
I had a used backpack in the car that I could give to Richard so I parked the car and approached him with the offer. He said no, it was too heavy to put in a backpack. He started to walk away and I turned away to go home but he stopped me and looking me right in the eyes, he said “Thank you.” The next week he asked me if I could get him some socks, which I did. From then on, he stops right in front of me when getting his meal and looks me in the face and says “Thank you.”
Not long ago, as I was serving dinner, he stopped in front of me and said “Will you pray for me?” Surprised, I said, “right now?” His response was “No, later.”
Yes, Richard, I will pray for you. REACH offers a safe place for folks like Richard to come for a feeling of community along with that meal and clean pair of socks.