We find them on street corners, at traffic intersections, in metro stations and various other locations. They are the men and women who rely on the kindness of strangers to help them simply make it another day. Many are homeless or temporarily living at shelters, but for, whatever reason, all of them are in a situation that none of us would find desirable. Regardless of the reason, every man, woman or child on the street desires to start the day with one simple thing: To be acknowledged, seen as a person. They want dignity -- something that is understandably difficult to feel or maintain when you are relying on the kindness of strangers.
In our Baptismal vows, we are directed to strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being. One way we can strive to live fully into this vow is by helping others see or find the dignity in themselves, especially when they are feeling lost. We can help lift them up, even if for only a brief moment, and remind them that they are not completely lost -- that they still have value in this world and a place beyond their hardships.
Therefore, the EYC (Episcopal Youth Community) of Immanuel is once again enacting its outreach ministry. It provides the opportunity for all parishioners to offer the homeless a simple reminder that he or she is not forgotten, while also giving them some basic essentials to hopefully help their day shine a little brighter.
With the funds raised at its annual BBQ, and from a generous contribution from the Outreach Committee, the EYC will provide individual care packages that contain socks, nail clippers, assorted snacks, band-aids, gum and notes reminding them that they are persons of value. These care packages will be neatly packed into quart sized zip lock bags that can easily fit into a briefcase, car glove compartment, purse, or backpack. Starting Sunday, March 31, they will be found in three locations: The narthexes of Zabriskie Chapel and Immanuel Chapel and outside the door of the EYC Room located in the lower level of Zabriskie Chapel. The care packages will be available in these locations as long as supplies last. It is our hope that you will grab as many as you would like and as often as you would like and carry them with you on your way around town, to work, etc. That way when you do see a man or woman in need you can hand them one of these packets and make that brief connection that could change their whole day.
Granted, there is a chance that some who receive a care package from you may not be exactly the kindest or most gracious recipient. That is perfectly ok and normal. However, there is also the very real chance that you will have a rich and humbling encounter with someone who is extremely grateful for the gesture. You never know, this brief encounter just may change your day for the better as well.
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
--The Rev. John Hogg
Assistant Rector for Children, Youth, and Family Ministry
EPISCOPAL YOUTH COMMUNITY
Mission for Dignity