Kissed With Homelessness

My first shift was today, it was a lot of fun but also very eye opening for me. I did not work in the kitchen today, I mainly helped with outside garden tasks and moved dirt around for about 5 hours. However, when the soup kitchen had been closed we moved into the dining area to transplant seedlings. Shortly after getting settled in to work, a man walked in. He was a bit short and was wearing a blue sweatshirt and matching sweatpants. He had a few days worth of grey stubble on his face and was missing the teeth on the left half of his mouth. “I saw you guys in here, what do you need help with?”  His speech was slurred, whether it was booze or lack of teeth is beyond me. He hugged and kissed every volunteer that he knew and then walked up to me. I said “Hi, I’m Cee.” He said. “I know who you are! well, Kinda…. I am Cocoa, My sister is gay but y’know I respect you….. My sister would love you.” I kind of laughed and said “well how do you know I am gay?” he laughed and replied “Really?”. We taught him how to transplant tomato seedlings and he seemed pretty happy to be involved. He was repeated about ten times was that his sister was gay and that “it’s her problem not mine, but I respect it”. He gushed about how fun the “Gay parade and Gay party” is in June and told me I have to go (It’s on my bucket list y’all!) all the while repeating that his sister was gay. Now normally, I would be offended BUT I really could not be mad at this homeless black man, a native of New York, who is a known and loved homeless man from around the block. It was HIS way of connecting with me, of trying to welcome me to the community. Acknowledging and verbalizing respect for my homosexuality (even if done in a non preferred way) is a start. I feel as though he presented his acceptance in a semi-rude way but I truly feel he had the best intentions at heart. Before he left, he asked for a hug, I hugged him and he planted a big kiss on me……

The night before, during our live-in house dinner, Moses, a 30 year old homeless man joined us for dinner, he made salsa (which was DELICIOUS!) and we talked for most of the dinner, he told me about his life and homelessness. He wants to work with teenagers, apparently he has befriended some youngins in Boston.Moses has drive and a seemingly great heart. He has been in Boston about 3 weeks and informed me he just got a job at Panera Bread. “I met the manager, she told me to go online and apply, she would give me a chance, 2 hours later I went back and asked her if she got the application. She knew I wanted that job, all I needed was a chance”. Earlier today, he spotted my coworker and I working in the school garden, he sprinted across the street and immediately asked what he could do to help. He started shoveling dirt and proceeded to help me by hauling tools back to the house. He never asked for ANYTHING, he smiled and asked if there was any more work to be done, he said he was headed to the library to find a good book, “being homeless can get boring if you don’t drink”.

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