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.

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.

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