Well, it’s been a busy few days at the RI Dream Center.
Last night, we had an RIDC meeting and we talked about a lot of exciting things coming up in the next month or so.
We talked about our annual upcoming Hope for the Homeless Event coming up on November 9th (we are having a festival for the homeless and raising awareness for their plight on Nov. 9). We’ve held this event at a number of different churches throughout the years – this year it will be at our home office at Praise Tabernacle Church.
We also talked about organizing the inventory and purchasing the rest of the items needed for our backpack drive (we are handing out 300 backpacks filled with winter necessities to the homeless on Nov. 16), It’s always a blast hanging out with the team as they hand out the backpacks each year.
We also talked about some really great, strategic partnerships we are forming with other organizations working towards the same goals we are reaching towards. I am really excited about this opportunity. That’s all I can say for now…but I am really excited about these partners (that is an enormous understatement).
The whole time we were talking about our upcoming events, we had a whole ‘nother planning committee meeting in one of the other rooms to plan the H4H event out in greater detail. It’s looking like they are planning a walk downtown and through Kennedy Plaza to raise awareness for the homeless. This year’s event has the makings of the biggest and best H4H event thus far.
All this was going on while Praise Tab was having its youth service, Youth Redefined…it’s exciting being there with so many other people, working towards the good of the community and building off of everyone else’s energy…we are all feeding each other and pushing each other to do things bigger and better.
And the same thing happened tonight…George got everything ready for me for the Food Truck tonight because I was short my regular prep-guy…while he was preparing the soups, hot cocoa, etc, the leader of the Narcotics Anonymous meeting was setting up in the next room over. Once the Food Truck finally got going, the church had its prayer meeting in the next room over on the other side! When I came back to clean up after the Food Truck, the NA meeting was just finishing up…it is an exciting time to be involved in all this stuff…and I truly believe we are making a significant impact in the community.
Tonight, for instance, we fed seventy-two people on the Food Truck. It was the first real cold night of the season I have been out there since last Winter, and a lot of the people we feed are people we have been feeding Winter after Winter…some seem to be stuck in the system, but I really hope they can find a way out. One of my regulars loves coming out to hear my music (tonight I had a Stevie Wonder mixtape blasting through my little boombox)…they call him Alabama and he stays over by Prairie Ave. Sometimes he is completely drunk and just dances to the music the whole time, and other times he is sober and just wants to say hi. He always says, “I knew it was you because I could hear your music!!!” No matter what, he always brings a smile to our faces, and it’s these simple, yet significant, interactions that really make the Food Truck special to be a part of.
But, the whole night was not rosy on the truck…(by the way, thank you to the gentleman that donated that new truck to us…we thoroughly enjoyed the heat tonight….our old truck did not have heat!!!)…because we came upon a set of two Providence police cars and a fire truck with their lights flashing on Broad Street…and sure enough, there was a woman completely laid out (drunk, high, not really sure, but she looked to be in a really bad way) and she had one of the yellow Live It Up hoodies we gave away last year as Christmas presents to the homeless. I still am not quite sure who it was…but to see that woman laying on the side of the road, completely motionless, broke my heart and I still can’t get the image out of my head. Imagine, last year at Christmastime, she came into the church and we gave her a sweatshirt…10 months later she is using it to keep her warm, but is passed out on the side of the road…
It hurts me even more because tomorrow we have another event for our homeless women…tomorrow morning, at our office, we are hosting another I Need You To Survive event, where we bus homeless women in and give them free makeovers, haircuts, dyes, etc…the difference between being passed out on Broad Street and showing up to our event tomorrow could be razor-thin for these ladies…and I hope that we can help them all!
In fact, to tie it all together, let me take this opportunity to brag on Maria…I first met Maria several years ago at a shelter on Cranston Street. She was doing ok, but still getting into trouble in certain areas…fast-forward a few years, she has turned things around significntly…she is off the streets in her own apartment with her new husband (she and William recently celebrated their one-year-anniversary! they were married through The Covenant, another service provided through the RI Dream Center) and Maria and her husband are super-faithful in helping me on Friday nights with the Food Truck. Tomorrow, she will be dropping by to take part of INU2S to get her hair done…I am sooooo happy that Maria is moving in the right direction and am extremely proud of her. As I drove by the woman laying on the street tonight, I was struck by the thought of how many other women this woman was representing, and as I looked over at Maria, I thought to myself, “how can we help more and more and more….just one at a time….just make an impact….just be there to help someone make a change…”…I’ll cry myself to sleep tonight thinking about that woman passed out on the side of the road…police and rescue were taking care of her…I’m so glad that Maria is helping to take care of others…
Well, Dream Center Diary, I think that is enough for tonight…we will be back at it soon…as I think about all the ways people are touched in that building on a nightly basis, I am truly excited about what our future holds…imagine the impact you and I can make together for those less fortunate throughout the next fifty years!!!
So, if you’ve been following the Dream Center Diary, you know we have a lot going on right now. We are working feverishly raising donations for our backpack drive and putting together the finishing touches on this year’s Hope for the Homeless event. Meanwhile, the Food Truck is still going strong, and Early Seekers is seeing more visitors than ever before.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of tunnel-vision while this is going on, focusing solely on the tasks at hand. However, I want to make sure we remember to take the time to thank our donors as well. Without you, we would not be able to operate as an organization.
So we want to take a little time to send out a couple of thank-you notes to two of our corporate sponsors:
Thank you, Blount Fine Foods.
Blount has been one of our premiere partners since the first year the Food Truck went out. When we first started, we used to ask our volunteers to make their own soup, and quite often it was not all that appetizing. We were not always putting a high-quality product out there on the streets in those early years…then, somehow we made a connection with the fine folks over at Blount. Since then, they have provided us with all the soup we can pass out every single Winter. I have no idea how much this has saved us, but I imagine it must be in the thousands of dollars by now. And because of you, Blount Fine Foods, we have been able to provide the homeless with delicious hot soup all winter long.
We recently presented Andrea Walker and Courtney Hamilton with a plaque to say thank your for their wonderful generosity:
If you get the chance, please support this fine company. My family has been eating Blount dinners for years. Wherever you are, you can find a Blount Clam Shack near you – they have locations in Providence, Warren, East Providence and Fall River. You can also find some of the freshest seafood around in their Fish Market in Warren. My wife recently brought me home a fantastic fish-n-chips from their Providence location. There are many other ways to support Blount as well…find out more by visiting their website, http://www.blountseafood.com/about-us.
Thank you Blount!!!!
Thank you, Elmwood Sports Center.
These guys have been sooooo good to us over the years. They have donated sooooo many clothes to us to give to the homeless, supporting the Early Seekers out there on Saturday mornings. This year, they have continued to step up to the plate as they have just announced they are donating 125 backpacks for us to stuff with winter necessities and hand out to the homeless this year. Elmwood Sports Center has been a continual source of support to the RI Dream Center, and we appreciate your help so much. I would certainly encourage anyone looking to fill their sporting goods needs to visit the team at Elmwood Sports before checking anyone else out. After you visit my friends at ESC, you’re not going to want to check anyone else out anyways! Just like Blount, they have donated top-notch, first-quality products to us for years, and we will never be able to thank them enough! If you need any team apparel, or just need something custom-made (just the other day, one of my friends was showing off his new custom-made hoody he got there), please visit our friends at Elmwood Sports Center on Elmwood Ave, in Cranston.
Be sure to check out Elmwood Sports Center online at http://elmwoodsportscenter.com/ or in their shop at 1553 Elmwood Ave.
There are many other corporate and personal donors that have made a huge impact this year. Blount and Elmwood Sports are all I have time for tonight, but I’d just like to send out a huge THANK YOU to all those unsung heroes (big and small) that keep the RI Dream Center up and running!!!