2012 LA Dream Center
Skid Row - it's not just a song title from "Little Shop of Horrors" although what you might see is pretty horrible. It's not a movie prop - this is all too real. To some it's a short-term situation, to others it's a way of life. Some are there by choice, some by no choice of their own.
We spent three assignments at Skid Row - two breakfasts and one lunch. The Dream Center serves meals every day, the same time, the same corner of Skid Row.
Relationships have been built with people. This is Ninya. She comes for meals every day. She brought her chair and sat in the sun to stay warm. She wasn't feeling well. Her feet were cracked and sore from walking. Our girls loved on her, listened to her stories and prayed with her. She couldn't stay long - she had to get back to her place on the sidewalk before her things were stolen. She brought her most valued possessions in a child's pull toy.
Prayer is important on Skid Row. It's touch. It's life. It's Hope.
There are those who have chosen the Street Family way of life. There is a constant battle with law enforcement as people camp in front of businesses and break civil laws. Prostitutes and drug dealers do business in the open.
There are several outreaches on Skid Row, including the Meals on Jesus Mission. A Minister deliver the gospel as people stand in line for food. Some churches make sack lunches and bring down town. You may be standing on a corner when a truck pulls up and people flock around the bed while food is handed out to people.
A new suburbia? These are there homes. We learned that tarps and tents are very valuable to the homeless. They may be the difference between life and death. They are shelter. They are sunshade. They "stake a claim" for the night.
The filth can be overwhelming. The smell of urine. Feces on the ground. The City of LA has provided self-cleaning toilets for the homeless - a rather ingenious invention made necessary by the hepatitis outbreak among the transient population. In the trash you see drug needles, condoms and evidence of life on the street that shouldn't be mentioned.
And then the reality that somewhere there's a child. You don't see them in the open. Social Services has taken most of them into protective custody.
In a downtown Park, people catch a nap in the sun. It had been chilly that morning. It is estimated that in the LA City Limits 6% of the population is homeless. Not the county, not the area - just inside the city limits.
The meals delivered are nourishiment to the body. But the human contact is nourishment to the soul. It is Hope.
Where have you delivered Hope today?