Their Salvation or Mine?

11 May

I recently met up with a Twitter friend I had been following for a couple of years.  It was great to finally meet face-to-face and see who I had been tweeting with this whole time.  We didn’t connect at the usual coffee shop or bar….we met at the Salvation Army in downtown Minneapolis.

He is a member of a theater group that teaches workshops at various homeless shelters in the Twin Cities, including this Salvation Army.  In fact, he had once stayed there for a few months when he moved here from Chicago.  His cousin said he had a place to live, but when my friend arrived, it was a lie and he was stuck on the streets.

This is one of the many ways he gives back to the Salvation Army and the homeless community, being eternally grateful they took him in and gave him a chance to get back on his feet.  Thank goodness there are resources like this when people are in need.

I had never been to a homeless shelter before, and to be honest, I was scared shitless.  We met in the parking lot because I was too scared to get out of my car and walk in alone.  It was like strolling into a Hollywood movie but it was all too real.  Men and women, old and young, walking around or asleep in the corner.  Everywhere I looked, it was jarring and sad, until I walked into the theater room.

Granted, I was still a little uncomfortable and nervous, but this room and group of people were different.  There was a glimmer of hope and ray of sunlight I didn’t see outside.  You could tell these men and women had a story to tell and they wanted a better life for themselves.

One after one, they performed their stories, each one more powerful and shocking than the last.  Many struggled with drug addictions and lost everything.  Some served time and had nothing and no one once they got out.  One man lost his vision after a domestic situation with his partner.  She threw acid in his eyes, forever changing his life and path.

Their performances were depressing, yet inspiring.  I was humbled and pissed at myself for whining about such stupid little things when these folks have been through hell and back.  I admire their courage to share their story and try to move forward and better themselves.  I applauded their bravery.

On the way to my car after rehearsal, I shared with my friend how overwhelmed and saddened I was by all of their stories…I cried all the way home.  However, the tears were soon replaced by hope and the motivation to return next week and continue to work with the group.

Yes, I can help them with their performances and coach them through exercises, but truly they are helping me realize that they are not a bunch of bums on the street.  They are people, with backgrounds and stories to tell, and they deserve to be respected, heard, and given a second chance.

One Response to “Their Salvation or Mine?”

  1. amyhahn719 May 12, 2016 at 12:50 am #

    Usually the things I am most hesitant to do give me the greatest benefit! Thanks for reminding me to be brave!

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