All of the ministry sites I go to are draining, usually because we are physically working, but also because we are using a lot of emotional energy.
But the one that always hits me the hardest is Epworth Men's Shelter. At the end of this month, it will be the only emergency overnight shelter for men in northern Chicago. Basically, that means that only 70 homeless guys will have a safe place to stay out of the hundreds on the streets.
There are plenty of places for women and children. But not men. It always hits me hard.
Men with one backpack of belongings.
No one to take care of them.
Most of them didn't even have a razor to their name.
But not friendless. Many of them have a community, hang out with each other, and protect each other.
I saw a kid my age who was on his own.
I watched a dude return to the shelter for the first time after three years. No luck.
I met guys who had come for the first time; guys who had been here for 20 years.
I heard about one of their friends who died recently due to overdosing on heroin.
I met an ex-lead singer in a hardcore band who had a serious brain injury.
Tough guys. But not entirely hopeless.
-Kara, CSM Chicago Summer 2011 City Host