My Night At the Friendly Kitchen-Homelessness 101

This afternoon after shopping for supplies for the homeless, I got dressed and put on my new Mizuno sneakers to break them in for tomorrow’s big test on the treadmill.  I was so nervous, and as it turned out I had reason to be, not bad but just a lot to take in one evening. 

Irene, the director is such a sweetie. I got there and she was the only person I honestly knew.  She introduced me to a couple of the team members who seemed very nice but much older.  I went to work rolling silverware up in napkins for dinner that would be served from 5 to 6 pm.  I got really involved to what I was doing, not a lot of brain power, so I decided to remember just as much as I could.

Around 4:30 I finished up the silverware, and prayed there was another task for me to get involved with. By this point the entire team was there so I was given a big welcome.  All the team members seemed nice but we are not even close to the same generation.  Not a younger person in the place, and I was the baby by a long shot at thirty nine.  We got our dinner assignments, mine was replenishing drinks, a good way I guess to meet the community if I get to them in time!  I started getting nervous and wanted to see Eugene.  I thought about ringing him on his phone really quick.

Before I knew it the people started coming in and going right to what seemed to be specific tables. I watched them come in, the few families with children just broke my heart….I wondered if any of the children went to school with my daughter?  I tried to look busy and thankfully this woman named Peggy walked up to me, and said I looked like a deer in the headlights! Not quite sure what she meant, there would be a lot of moments like that tonight. I ask about how long she had been with the kitchen, and she said close to 8 years.  Oh I finally spotted Eugene, he saw me at the same time, and started headed right over to me.  I was so grateful to see him! I wanted to hug him, but we are not that way, and no matter how much I felt out of place hugging Eugene was not an option for sure!

I let Eugene go get in line for his dinner, and I grabbed a pitcher of lemonade and one of unsweetened tea.  I started where the folks first got their food. Most people were all set with the drinks. I met a lot of different personalities but one thing I noticed from the top of the show; they all are one big loose-knit family of sorts. I wanted to talk and be more gracious, but I felt so privileged to actually be there amongst them.  Some I recognized from the center of town, most of the others I had never seen before.  I thought to remember at least one person, whose name I would learn. I wanted to come back and write more tomorrow about at least one or two of Eugene’s extended family. I also knew I could call Eugene up and ask him anything I wanted to know.  I certainly want to respect this “family” and hopefully one day not too off, I will fill comfortable, and stop ruminating on all the things and money I had that they didn’t have….it made me feel real bad, and I got to get over this, I know there isn’t anybody who wants to see anybody else in their shoes.  The clients were definitely gracious, and as the evening flew buy, and more drinks were needed, I started to find a groove for myself.  I liked hearing my name, “Corey” called out by so many people I did not yet know.

The evening was over really fast I thought, and I figured since it was so early I would help with clean up.  However there is a whole group of people assigned to just clean up. Wow like that I was done, I brought all my pitchers back into the kitchen and tried to speak for a moment with Irene.  “Corey, sweetheart you did great, how did you like it?” I gushed, “I loved it I hope I am invited back next Tuesday night.” “Are you hungry Corey, there is plenty of food for you to take some home with you.” “Oh thank you Irene, my friend is picking me up, so I will get some dinner another time. Nice to meet all of you.  See you next Tuesday, good night, Irene.”

I got outside and just started to smile a smile that made every ill go away.  There was Eugene, speaking to my girl Stephanie in the car, who had come to pick me up. I know Eugene is sweet on Stephanie, I don’t care he is almost 60 years old.  Stephanie is my girl, we can get him his own, but Stephanie is so kind and gracious I love her that much more.  “Well good night my friend,” I said to Eugene.  He smiled at me, and said, “You acted like a pro.” We laughed as I got in Stephanie’s car to head home, and we both waved good-night to Eugene.

-Corey

BORN THIS WAY-2016

Late in the Day Report Back on Helping The Homeless

So I mentioned that I went to bed, bogged down with homeless friend, Eugene.  How could we be not so different, but I sleep in a cozy bed, in home I am proud to call mine, and share it with my loved ones, and Eugene, my friend, who has everything upstairs, no mental or addiction problems, lives on the streets, and rest his head….God I don’t even know where!  Does Eugene know what it feels like to have your own bed, that you get ready at night, and slip into the covers, girl and dog by your side?  Eugene must have had plenty of his own beds in his lifetime?  He has a daughter, that he talks to, so he couldn’t have been a half bad father.  It makes me sad for obvious reasons, but it makes me scared as well.  Could I or you or anyone I know, go from where I am sitting, to a life on the streets where nothing is for sure?

Today I was really bogged down, by life and its sometimes harshness.  I had Stephanie give me a ride to the shelter I knew: Cross Roads.  It is actually a multi-site as it does have a safe place for domestic abuse victims and their children.  They were real standoffish, and I will write a letter to inform the director, that all I wanted to, was find ways to help.  Well it is not that easy, if your able-bodied and have some cash to donate for supplies.  You would think they would jump all over me, instead of look at me to see if I might be out on a three-hour pass.  I know the three-hour pass look, and no when I have been in, there was no getting out for even a minute.  My only reason for going in-patient has always been for the same damn reason: no sleep for too long, makes Corey sick.  No not voices or hallucinations, although if it would help me with my cause, I would surely write yes on my daily inventory.

So this place, called Cross Roads handed me a pre-printed sheet of paper.  Listing all the supplies they can use, and that was all they had to say.  I am sure I didn’t need to leave the comfort of my study, to get this ole mighty list, that is posted right in front of my face.  So discouraging, as I finally learn I know relatively nothing, about this big problem: homelessness.

So tomorrow I am going to do some research on the state and the local level.  I want to know the basics of this awful epidemic I have shamelessly ignored right in front of my face.  Do I appear that out of place, because I do give a damn and want to find ways to make a difference?  I just need an 800-number to help me figure out the honest situation, and what I can do, and what we all could do if we decided to give a damn. I know there are lots of problems-but now I have a friend, who doesn’t have a home, or bed…..and it is making feel like shit.  Eugene is fine I spoke to him quickly-boy he loves that piece of crap of a phone.  Just a little respect, and common dignity, go along way in helping the human race.

I am calling it a day. Tomorrow’s writing is dedicated to the topic of homelessness.  Tonight I start a brand new blog, not personal more op-ed…about things that probably  don’t matter, but should be said so with a Corey spin I will post them on my new blog: Corey’s Dysorder @ coreysdysorder.com.

I wish I had so much more to say, tomorrow I take things in my own hand.  I Corey Britton will make a difference, and it’s my first night at Friendly Kitchen!

-Corey

BORN THIS WAY-16

 

Eugene And Homelessness……

I haven’t gone to sleep tonight, so the maniac’s hours are off to a different start.  I am spending some much needed time thinking, and rearranging, b47f5b85bcc4badb4ac1845ce6d54bb8as well as making some intentional choices to do things differently.

I am nonetheless excited about the impending maniac’s hours.  So much so, I have begun to write, before my BLISSED OUT universe is set up.  I have been replaying a lot of things I did, and were said to me.  I needed to hear it.  I listened, took what I thought was appropriate and blocked the rest out.  No, it’s not turmoil or a bad exchange.  it was pretty benign without much thought.  It caused me a major ouch, surprisingly.  All is well, and Corey is back.  I ready myself to go out to the store to pick up my requisite coffee.  I wonder if Eugene, the homeless man I met last night will be back? I promised him my word that I would get him what he needed, as long as he didn’t call me a “faggot” again.  I have big faith Eugene will never call me a faggot again. I wonder although will he be there? Surely I will help this homeless man out.

A couple of my well-heeled friends laughed at what I did last night.  Bets were taken to see if Eugene would be there with his posse in tow.  Never mind I said, it makes no difference. If Eugene brings friends, well I have friends.  The laughter stopped immediately with my words.  I continued, “If Eugene has friends, you can all pony up and we can do right by a few folks.  Silence it was surely deafening, but I rounded the troops, and gave my pep talk. Finally, my friends reluctantly agreed to the deal.  As a friend I ask for very little, so when I speak my friends know I need them, I want them to help. Nobody I was talking to couldn’t easily afford to help some homeless people out.

I know it is nothing more than a band aid.  But when I see Eugene he is always bleeding.  I don’t have or are ashamed to say, I haven’t used my brain to consider the epidemic of homelessness. Perhaps someday, when I have finished school, and understand policy much better than I do, I will take a seat at the table, and roll up my sleeves and join the conversation.

Tonight is much more than the maniac’s hours.  I never went to bed and they are quickly appearing.  My body feels weird, but my mind will not settle it will not stop.  So I am going to gather my pug, my wallet and my keys and grab a jacket.  Butterflies about Eugene will my stomach as I get closer to leaving.  I will be back, it will be the maniac’s hour, and as we know I surrender to the shear bliss.

I am so bummed, with my coffee in hand, I went out to the store ledge where homeless people like to sit.  Not a soul was there, I was truly disappointed.  I went back into the store, and said, “Hey where is the people who sit on the ledge every night?”  “The cops just came and booted them off the property for trespassing.” “You got to be telling a really bad joke.  This isn’t fair, what exactly are they doing that’s wrong.” “It is called loitering and it is illegal in almost every place.”  “But, but I met this man last night, and helped him get stuff some food and drinks.” Sorry” said the clerk it is what it is.” I said, “Wait a minute, do you have a spare envelope I could use? The clerk handed me an empty envelope and I stuffed a twenty bill inside of it.  I sealed it tight, and wrote Eugene in block letters.  “Please I said, could you keep out for this old man, Eugene.  He was expecting me tonight and now he isn’t here, please try to get this directly to him.  I wrote on the envelope: To Eugene from Corey.  Sorry I missed you and I will be looking for you again tomorrow night.

Discouraged and a whole lot of bummed out I headed home.  I took off my jacket, put my keys on the shelf, unleashed the dog and entered the study.  So here I sit now just stewing away.  Where exactly are homeless people supposed to go?  I am thinking of Eugene; he would have back.   Does he see me a one-time nice white person, who has already forgotten about him?  I will have no way to know if he ever got the money, unless I meet up with him again.  The feeling is worse because I promised to be back. Now Eugene must think I am as bad as all the others.

I am at a funny time in my life.  Competing to give back butts heads with my school endeavors.  I have literally in my 20’s stepped over people lying passed out on the sidewalk.  With all I have been through in the last few weeks, I feel myself get softer in my world where both are so far apart.  I think out loud how could I have a mother, who never in a million years would give help to the poor. I take that back she does contribute to her church’s food pantry.  For all that she has and as little as she gives, it is embarrassing to me, her very first born.

I decided because I can’t think of very much else, to go the store this morning and see if they gave the money right to Eugene.  I will definitely go back tomorrow night, if I must I will make more than one trip.  By the way where is he tonight?  There’s frost on the cars and I needed my winter jacket.  Since I met him I can’t get him out of head.  The thought of his life leaves very upset.  I am floundering in the moment I want to help, but I believe my best care is giving directly to Eugene.

-Corey

BORN THIS WAY-2016