Community Drop-in #5: Time is Priceless

Dinner – Beef Stir Fry with Rice (Yummy!)

Today’s drop-in experience was a little different. I brought a friend with me who had never been.

The first thing he said to me was that he wouldn’t eat too much. I figured it was because he felt like he was eating food that could’ve been eaten from someone who needed it. Since I thought he felt that way, it started to make me feel that way again. Even though this is only my 4th time coming to the drop-in, I still feel weird about it because of how people react when I tell them where I’m going. Many show confusion and anger because I’m potentially eating another person’s dinner. Not saying that these individuals are dumb, but they are close-minded and not understanding of what a community drop-in is really about.

My friend is a prime example of the stereotypical assumptions that are associated with homeless drop-ins. There’s nothing wrong with his initial comment. Although it does make it better that he was thinking for them, rather than against them come to think of it. Aside from that, the food that is served is for everyone. Individuals are not excluded because of their social class at the community drop-in. The drop in actually encourages people to involve themselves because it is their involvement that tightens the conflict between the rich and the poor. It is the effort to build a relationship that alleviates the stereotypes that is associated with homelessness, in turn alleviating the silent suffering we are causing them.

Today was a full house. My friend and I had to wait until a seat was available. While we waited in the lounge area, a man sat down beside me holding his stomach in pain. My first thought was that he was going to hurl, or that he was needed to relieve his bowels so I shuffled a little over the opposite side; my germaphobia is kicking in here. I asked what’s wrong because it just seemed like the natural thing to do when you see someone in pain and he explained that he had a simple stomach ache. The odd part was that as simple as it is, it’s been happening for the last few weeks. He had made an appointment with the doctor with the earliest appointment three weeks from now. Since he had to wait three weeks before seeing his doctor, he was very persistent in seeing the nurse at the drop-in. I suggested that if he wanted another fresh eye, there was a walk-in clinic downtown that he could see as well. He asked where about specifically because transportation was scarce for him. Even though he thanked me for the advice, you could sort of sense that the information went in one ear and out the other by his persistence for the nurse.

The note that Joe clearly stated to me during my first time here came into mind from my conversation with the man. Joe explained to me that the drop-in is more than just a place for a hot meal; it is a community with a roof. People who come here often depend on each other like family. To the individual with stomach cramps, his persistence to see the in-house nurse could be an example of how connected the community is in here. Although she is the in-house nurse, she is also considered a friend or even a family member to the individuals who frequent here.

It is heart warming to know, there are people who are willing to use their profession in a community that is underserved. There is much need for involvement in communities like this. To have students interning at a placement like this, is a great step in creating a better future for this community. Students are the future after all.

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