Please Know...

As I come to know the men and women of Kensington, specifically the homeless and addicted, their stories become increasingly sensitive and personal. Their collective story is what I am trying to share with you as my way of breaking the stereotypical beliefs that exist in regard to these fine people. Names are rarely their actual names and wherever I can do so, I might use the opposite pronoun (his/her, etc.) just to help increase their privacy.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Elli and her Dentist

John Jack was proud of his associate's degree with which he served the people of his community as an assistant to a dental hygienist for over 10 years.  After thinking about it for a long time, he entered dental school and graduated somewhere between the top and the bottom ranking of his class.  He remained proud of his associate's degree and wanted to retain a remembrance of those days in his title on business cards and on the sign on his new office door.

Here begins the true story of



Elli had been living on the streets of Kensington, addicted and homeless for over a year.  She knew days of little food and sleep and a never-ending run of humiliating and potentially dangerous 'dates.'  She got to the point within her soul where she decided enough was enough.  With a great deal of effort, she managed to get into a detox and rehab program and was doing great, great beyond her and her loved one's expectations.

Once out of rehab, with a counselor's guidance, she set a course for further recovering of her life's goals which now included a very real knowledge of her LORD's love for her and deep commitment to Jesus as her personal LORD and Savior.

One of her first physical goals selected for achievement was to tend to her dental issues.[1]  She made an appointment with a local dentist who had just opened his own office near her home.

Following a thorough exam, Dr. Jack Ass., DDS advised Elli that the best course of action was to remove all of her remaining teeth and create a full set of dentures.  Elli was saddened about this but agreed that in this time of starting over with her life, completely new teeth fit that theme.

As a newly opened dental practice, Dr. Jack Ass., DDS's schedule was far less than full.  Elli had not eaten anything since the night before and agreed to have her teeth removed right then and there.  The procedure went well and the pain which followed was horrendous - for Elli that is… Dr. Jack Ass., DDS didn't feel a thing.

In an obvious violation of his dental Hippocratic oath[2], a version of which I, the author of this blog could find, Dr. Jack Ass., DDS provided an opioid-based pain reliever to Elli. 


Elli is back on the streets, 

using, 

dating, 

crying,  - NO, -  wailing in my arms two nights ago in agony that consumes the depths of her soul, over the loss of her fight for sobriety and the apparent need to 'date' in the sight of her LORD and Savior so as to provide funding for an addiction that she beat and that Dr. Jack Ass., DDS ignorantly pushed her back into once again.




[1] Addiction and street life really do a lot of damage to teeth and gums. 
I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:
·         I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those dental professionals in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.
·         I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures which are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.
·         I will remember that there is art to dentistry as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.
·         I will not be ashamed to say “I know not”; nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s well being.
·         I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humility and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.
·         I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart or a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems if I am to care adequately for the sick.
·         I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.
·         I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.
·         If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live a re-membered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Before The demon Came Calling...

The following is written more like a novel.  Events have happened at some point in the recent past.  I am not an actual father but felt led to write this from that perspective...

I had recently learned that my daughter was living under one of two bridges in Kensington.  She's been dealing with addiction for years.  She's the apple of my eye, the young love of my life.  I've visited those bridges a few times in hopes of finding her.  Tonight, I did.

She was off by herself, having a hard time standing.  She was within eyesight of the rest of the bridge community and yet in a location where the driver of any passing car could easily stop and scoop her up for their own illicit plans.  I walked over to her.

"Hi, Melanie."  With a slobbery lean, she looked at me and smiled a bewildered and slightly embarrassed smile.  "Hi, Dad.  Why are you here?"  "You're my daughter and I love you."

For the next hour, I stayed with Melanie as she alternated from standing more or less straight up to sinking lower and lower until those moments when her head rested on the urine fragranced sidewalk on the opposite side of the road from the tented men and women of this particular bridge community.  There was a definite cycle to the process.  In her alert moments, she looked at me, smiled as her nose ran and drool found her t-shirt.  "You're still here?"  "Of course I am. You're my daughter and I love you."

In one of those coherent moments in this ongoing cycle, I said to Melanie that I wish we could go to McDonald's as we did when she was a child.  "Can I get a chocolate milkshake?" she asked in the midst of her high.  "Of course you can."  That was always her favorite.

For the next hour or so, my adorable weeble wobbled and never fell down.

Without any hint of this moment coming, Melanie stood up, looked at me and repeated, "Dad?"  You're still here?"  "Of course I am Melanie.  You're my daughter and I love you."

"Can we go to McDonald's?"

"Yes.  Let's go."

"I have to change my shirt first."

"That's fine.  I'll wait."

Maybe twenty minutes later, my princess reappeared, cleaned up, wearing a beautiful long flowing bright pastel colored summer dress.  Her makeup was perfect.  Memories of days long since past flooded my mind as she walked toward me.  How can such a beautiful woman call this underside of a Conrail overpass 'home'?

Dinner by way of the McDonalds drive through was exquisite.  We had decided to drive through and park along Lehigh Avenue so as to be able to chat privately.  She and I ordered the same things, breakfast foods and chocolate shakes, just as we had done in younger days before the demon came knocking on our family door.

After dinner, as we drove, Melanie asked me to pull over on a side street.  She opened the door, begged me not to leave and quickly explained that she needed to do a quick date so as to raise funds for her medicine.  My heart began to explode.  And that's when God stepped very noticeably into this night.

"BE CALM.  I GOT THIS.  ALL WILL BE WELL.  I WANT YOU TO SEE WHAT MY LADY CHILDREN ON THE STREET ENCOUNTER EVERY DAY AND  EVERY NIGHT.  ALL WILL BE WELL.  JUST OBSERVE.  YOU WILL KNOW WHAT TO DO NEXT."

For maybe the next half hour, my daughter love paced around the intersection a hundred feet behind my car.  I watched in my rearview mirror as she watched for cars slowing down to look at her.  Her pastel colors stood out in the street light darkness of the night.

On three occasions, 'men' pulled over on the opposite side of the same street where I was parked.  My precious daughter cautiously walked up to their passenger window and engaged in whatever conversation happens in that moment.  The third 'man' had parked exactly across from my car.  Melanie slowly walked up to his passenger window.  I could see her face as she realized that this third attempt was not interested in her either.  With each 'rejection' I could see her countenance of joy from the evening deteriorate.  I couldn't take it anymore.  I couldn't take realizing that I may witness my flesh and blood possibly 'going down' on some guy who doesn't care about her in any way shape or form.

As that third car sped away, my angel looked broken.  I motioned to Melanie to come over.  She got back in my car. 

"How much money do you need for your medicine to get you through the night?"

She paused and thought and said with no sence of pride...

"Forty dollars would keep me reasonably comfortable through the next eight hours."

Maybe I'm wrong but I think this is what a Dad would do in such a situation…

I gave her the money and drove her to a location where she suggested I pull over.  She walked around a corner, her pastels disappearing and came back within five minutes with her medicine for the night.  She prepared her first dose and stuck her previously used needle into her human form I had helped create only a very a few decades ago five times before finding a vein that would accept the injection. 

As her 'medicine' began to take effect, Melanie mellowed and settled into a position of her head on my lap as she had done so often in her childhood, long before the demon came calling.

My heart ached for the return of the peace and pleasure of those days.  For now, I needed to know that this fine daughter of my making was, at least for this night, back with me and content to be so. 

In those days of Melanie's childhood, I would often brush her hair as we would watch the Saturday morning lineup of cartoons.  Tonight, as I looked down at my beautiful gift from God, I noticed how knots had found their way into her curly locks.  I found a travel kit that was within reach and pulled out a hairbrush.  For the next hour or so, Melanie laid there semi-conscious and fully aware that I was brushing her hair.  Addiction and homelessness, streetwalking and dating, and maybe even the demon itself seemed to take the night off. 

The best of nights come to a close at some point…

I took God's gift to me back to where we had started hours before.  Out of respect for her adulthood and in spite of my heartache, we said goodnight with a hug and a kiss…   Oh, and that silly little nose rub that we did from time to time… before the demon came calling.


Monday, July 23, 2018

Can a Ministry be a Ministry and Not Be 501c3?

It was recently explained to me by a leader of a suburban church that since my Relational Ministry is not a 501c3, the church, as an organization, could not support my efforts.[1]  "You call it a ministry." was one of the statements made to me.

Well, let's see:

Matthew 25:34-36 (MSG)

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:

I was hungry and you fed me,

For more than a year, I've provided bananas and occasional other foods as able.

I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,

            For more than a year, I've provided water.

I was homeless and you gave me a room,

I provided a room at my house for 10 days after an Emerald City resident was released from prison.

I have provided sheets, many of which became walls of 'rooms' to create some degree of privacy on the streets.

I was shivering and you gave me clothes,

I've provided coats and clothes.  I've tucked our county's sons and daughters in with blankets and quilts as they slept on pieces of cardboard shivering in their sleep in the cold of winter.

I was sick and you stopped to visit,

By visiting multiple days in a row, I identified a seriously ill man who ended up in the hospital with advanced pneumonia.  He told me later that I saved his life.  I visited him in the hospital as he recovered. 

As I type this, I am waiting for a text from a former Emerald City resident who is stuck in a hospital awaiting surgery for a non-addiction related issue and wants me to visit.

I was in prison and you came to me.’

I have visited two Emerald City residents in prison and attended their court sessions with their family members.  I wrote to the judge providing character insights for one of them.[2]


Miscellaneous:

  • I've had countless casual conversations with residents on matters of Faith as we sat on the sidewalk.
  • I've assisted with four overdosed people, one who needed CPR.  All were saved not by me but by the excellent care given to these four human beings by two residents of Emerald City.[3],[4]
  • I've been scolded at and then apologized to by a Philadelphia police officer who thought I was trying to pick up one of the ladies for a 'date'.  He thanked me for my efforts.  (That was a fun moment.)
  • I've provided Bibles and other Christian themed books, art books, and crossword books and notebooks for diarying[5].
  • I've purchased and distributed several copies of the book, Walking Into Walls, to people who were ready and open to making the changes mentioned in that book.
  • I've been told by these overlooked men and women that I'm a blessing to them.
  • One drug dealer told me: "If the mayor ever asks me, I'm going to tell him that you should get the citizen of the year award for all that you do for this community."[6]
  • I've listened to, held the hand and hugged the straight, gay and lesbian addicted and homeless person also dealing with cancer, MS, HIV, and AIDS.
  • I've been told by one that I'm their father figure since losing their own parents years ago.
  • I've provided printed prayers and Christian song lyrics to residents and dealers. 
  • I've reunited by phone residents and family members who had not spoken in months. 
  • I've passed messages back and forth between residents and family members who are not ready to speak to each other directly.
  • I've come to know fathers and mothers and aunts and cousins of residents of the streets of Kensington.  All adore their street-imprisoned son/daughter, nephew/niece, cousin and ache to the deepest fathoms of their heart for a safe return.
  • I've applied triple antibiotic ointment and bandages to nail-in-foot holes and medicine-injection-gone-wrong abbesses. 
  • I've been approached for and given a hug to ladies as they hop out of cars on their return from dates and before they leave for their next appointment.
  • I've been laughed at by a Mom's daughter, both with whom I've had interaction, when the daughter, who I've known for over a year opened a donated red box to discover it filled with still tagged slim fitting Victoria's Secret extremely kinky "unmentionables."  "Chris! A good church guy like you brings us this!!!  Thanks!!!"[7]
  • I've taken currently addicted and recovered former residents of Emerald City with me to church at Urban Hope.
  • I've provided the soap, water, and towels to a fair skinned lady back in the morning from her night of dates to wash her blackened flip-flopped feet.  As she did so, I read to her the account of Jesus washing his disciples' feet.  I poured fresh water over her feet and ankles as she wiped away the remaining bubbles.  I looked up at her…  a tiny tear.  No one has seen her since. 

Throughout this, I've said, "I've."  In factual reality, I'm not doing this.  I would not do these things on my own.  I give all the glory to God and I would never change this experience for anything - well, until our LORD may say otherwise.  I show up and awesome things happen in front of me to which I try to respond in the Name of Jesus.

Is this a ministry?  That's not for me to decide. 

Please help me to keep this going.



[1] Individuals there are free to contribute. 
[2] I would do this more if I knew the full names of Emerald City residents.  Very often, all I know is their street name.
[3] I've never needed my Narcan because the residents carry it to use on each other as needed.
[4] This is an example of what makes these communities a 'grass roots' safe injection site.
[5] Is that a word?
[6] I still laugh when I think about the context of that comment.
[7] OK… That wasn't my most wholesome ministry moment but it did open doors of communication to people who may have had reservations about my efforts.  God works in mysterious ways!

Friday, July 20, 2018

The Hazards Faced by Men and Women in Fund Raising to Support Their Addiction

I was recently asked the following question on Facebook:

"Why don't you ever talk about the boys? Why do they get left out of a very real problem?"

If you look through my blogs, you will see stories of men and women.  Sometimes, a story has the opposite gender represented when gender is irrelevant to the point of that story.  It's part of my way of trying to assure anonymity.[1]

Those thoughts aside, let's compare and contrast men and women living addicted and homeless on the streets…

The similarities between men and women…

Men and women all buy, generally speaking, the same drugs from the same dealers.  Some have preferences on where to buy but all buy. 

All use street drugs… There are variations on who uses what and how they use it but all use something, somehow.

Almost all of the men and women I've come to know and love live in tents under one of two different bridges.  Some visit the bridges for a sense of community and live elsewhere.  Some live in abandoned houses and come to the bridges to take their medicine in the community as a way to be as safe as possible.[2] 

Both genders live and laugh and love and hate and fear and feel shame about their current life and hope for a better future.  Both run the risk of going hungry and thirsty, not sleeping for days, overdosing, being revived and overdosing again.
                            
The contrast between men and women comes in the fundraising activities to support their addictions. 

Men stand on street corners and/or at busy intersections with a sign asking for money.  Occasionally, these men are cursed at by passing drivers.  On rare occasions, a driver will throw something at the man.  That item will or will not hit it's intended target. 

Some men spend their days in gas station parking lots asking for change from customers.  On occasion, these men will offer to wash the windows of the customer's car for a dollar.

Some men walk around the area with a shopping cart and look for anything metal that can be taken to the local scrap yard.  It's amazing how much stuff can be hauled in one cartload.  These men had to endure an interruption in their collection delivery following a massive fire at the local salvage yard on July 11th.

Most of the women rely on 'dating' for their income.  While the men are enduring harsh words and occasionally thrown items from passersby, the women are hopping into cars of unknown-to-them men. 

As I shared with you in "I need my Medicine." These women endure tremendous humiliation so as to find the funds to support an addiction they'd rather not have:



Taking mass transit back from a date is not always an option for some of our society's daughters.  I shared this story with you on March 21st of this year:

In Memoriam

Last Thursday, I met a young woman in Emerald City.  I introduced myself as I handed her a water and a banana.  She told me her street name.  It was a fun street name that led us to some enjoyable conversation with smiles and a couple good laughs between us.  Casey told me that on Friday, 24 hours after I met and laughed with this fun named young daughter of her parents, she was on a 'date' and never returned to the bridge.  She was raped and murdered several blocks away. 

Speaking in general terms here: Ladies date to fund the purchase of their medicine.  They don't date because they enjoy it.  Somewhere, somehow, with too many possible storylines to convey here, these ladies became addicted and struggle to find their way out of that addiction.  

I don't know the story of how this young lady ended up dead from dating.  I do know that she did not want to be there or involved in addiction at all.  I also know that she had a great sense of humor and a charming smile that her family will miss for the remainder of their days.

Even when the woman knows the man as being a regular customer, she is not necesarily safe.  Just a few weeks ago, one young lady of these communities hopped into the car of one of her regular 'clients' and had her neck slit by the man hiding in the back seat.  She survived last I heard.

Preparing for their Fund Raising Efforts…

When the men prepare to go raise funds, they walk to their favorite street corner with their cardboard sign or they find a shopping cart and walk for blocks as they look for metal objects. 

When I see them leaving, I say "Be safe, (First Name)."  They say.  "I will."
                                                                                                                                                       
When the women prepare to go raise funds, they do what most any woman would do in preparation for a date.  They will get cleaned up as much as they can on the streets.  They will do their makeup in the reflection of a broken mirror that someone found on the street.  Some of the ladies do their makeup as they gaze at their reflection in the side window of my Chevy Uplander.  The smile of an anticipated date is absent and replaced by solemn thoughts such as:

"Will I find a date before dope sickness sets in?"
"Will I actually be paid?"
"Will I be raped (again)?"
"Will I survive this night?"

When I see them leaving, I say "Be safe, (First Name)."  They say.  "I'll try."




[1] I've written about one person so much (with their permission and knowledge) that I've used both genders and four different names!
[2] These bridge communities are "street level" safe injection sites.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

My Heart hurts tonight… My Heart celebrates tonight…

My heart hurts tonight…

My heart hurts tonight for the husband who didn't know that his addicted and homeless wife had died weeks before he learned of her passing. 

My heart celebrates tonight…

My heart celebrates tonight the depth of character demonstrated by the addicted and homeless woman who conveyed this sadness to those of us gathered this day on the Emerald Sidewalk.

My heart hurts tonight…

My heart hurts tonight for the broken relationships between a man I've known for about a year and his now adult child and other family members.

My heart celebrates tonight…

My heart celebrates tonight the awesome, LORD guided progress this man has been making toward reclaiming his God-intended life path.

My heart hurts tonight…

My heart hurts tonight for the daughter who hopped into that white van with some 'man' so that she could meet her needs.

My heart celebrates tonight…

My heart celebrates tonight in knowing that this daughter, upon her return, knew that she could get a hug in the Name of Jesus from "Banana Man."

My Heart hurts tonight…

My heart celebrates tonight…







Saturday, July 7, 2018

The Sheep and the Goats in Relational Ministry

I grew up in the Episcopal Church - Literally - My Dad was an Episcopal Priest who served the same church community for his entire ministry of 40 years.  As a result, I've been exposed to Bible passages all my life and made my Christian Commitment decades ago.
One of the interesting things about reading the Bible is that it takes on new meanings to the reader at different stages in life and after various experiences.  Such is the case with this passage from Matthew 25:
The Sheep and the Goats
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Footnotes:
a.     Matthew 25:15 Greek five talents … two talents … one talent; also throughout this parable; a talent was worth about 20 years of a day laborer’s wage.
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
               

As I read this recently, I was struck by how much it relates to Relational Ministry on the Streets of Kensington. 

These women and men, daughters and sons, Moms and Dads - well, you name the relationship - live on these streets.  Over these couple of years, I've had the privilege of providing food, water, and clothes.  I've identified serious physical illness and visited in the hospital.  I've visited in prison and written to a judge on one person's behalf.  I've invited into my home a recovering former addict/inmate in hopes of further recovery.    

I say "I've" but it's hardly me.  Something beyond my understanding allows me to do nothing else.  Results (representing one man and one woman) have included being told that I "scrapped him out of the gutter." He'll be going to church with me for the third consecutive week tomorrow! 

Malinda, a daughter from Delaware County, held on to me tight for a reassuring embrace between 'dates' last Sunday.

This is a ministry as I have never known… Again, it's not ME.  I'm just showing up to Emerald City and its surrounding bridge communities and letting events and conversations happen.

I'm loving every moment of this.  There is/are tremendous sadness, joy, tears, and laughs.  I wouldn't trade this for anything! 

I fully understand that going to Emerald City and its surrounding bridge communities is not for everyone.  Some people shouldn't go.  That does not mean that you can't help make this happen.  As the addicted man stands on the street corner begging for change… As the addicted woman 'dates' to support her medicinal needs, I write this to you asking for your prayerful/financial support to keep my ministerial "high" going.  I've never been so blunt, so thrilled, so humbled, as to ask you for support and to serve these people in such a way.

If you're reading this blog within the realm of some other similar organization/ministry to which you feel called, please support them.  We are all doing the same basic thing from varying perspectives. 





Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Your Helpful Neighbor: A Home and Grounds Service Business to Senior Citizens since 1996

The website www.yourhelpfulneighbor.org for my humble service business is temporarily down. 

This page will be providing you with basic information about my service business.

Entering www.yourhelpfulneighbor.com will bring you to this page of my blog.


Monday, July 2, 2018

Addiction and Homelessness Issues in Kensington ARE NOT ALWAYS Kensington Issues!

I glanced up the street on Emerald as I was chatting with a resident about how all of his belongings had been trashed by the recent city clean-up.  He needed sheets and blankets to sleep on.  Fortunately, thanks to a recent donation, I was able to give him what he needed.

Glancing up Emerald at that exact moment was as if God wanted me to see that Melanie was getting out of a car driven by some guy who had just had her for his own purposes and she was "allowing" being had for her own medicinal needs. 

Whenever I get within range of Melanie, I do everything I can to check in with her.  Melanie is my neighbor in Delaware County.  We live in towns separated by five or fewer miles of Concord Road.  Well, I need to clarify that.  I live just off Concord Road in Glen Mills and she has lived in Emerald City for many months.

As I walked with my cooler of water and bananas to the north end of the Conrail overpass that creates shelter for the 60 to 80 men and women of Emerald City, I saw Melanie chatting with a small cluster of people.  She was beautifully dressed in a long flowing summer gown.  Her hair was perfect and makeup outstanding for any social situation.  She saw me and smiled the smile of neighbors greeting each other.  "Hi, Neighbor (Actual First Name)," I said. 

"Hi, Chris. How are you?" 

As she has done for our past four interactions, she walked up to me and nestled in for an extended hug and hold.  As she held on, I reminded her that I pray for her every time I am on Concord Road.  While I'm not sure she knows what to do with that thought, she seems to appreciate the general idea.

A couple of visits and hugs ago, I asked her if she was familiar with the intersection of Concord and Cheyney Roads.  She said "Yes."  I told her that I grew up there and that my Dad had been the Episcopal Priest at Saint John's Church for his entire ministry.  She said that she knows of Saint John's.

On this day, I asked her if she knew of Elam United Methodist Church near the intersection of Route 202 and Smithbridge Road.  She thought for a moment as she remained nestled by her own choice next to me.  "Oh yes."  I remember that church." 

"Although I regularly attend Urban Hope, I am a member there.  They recently made a donation that allowed me to buy today's bananas.  They donated the water you're holding as well."  She thought that was cool that a local church to her hometown had done this.

Our conversation eventually came to a natural close.  Melanie let go of her self-selected hug.  We said our goodbyes and went on to other interactions.

A couple minutes later, as I chatted with another resident of Emerald City, I glanced north in time to see Melanie getting into a car driven by some guy who was about to have her for his own purposes and she was about to "allow" being had for her own medicinal needs.