Thanksgiving 2020… A year that looks and feels very different for all of us. What…
Each year we invite members of the community to spend a night at our annual Sleep Out in the open. This is one of our big fundraisers. Sometimes we do it in a park or somewhere else, but this year, we had it at Showering Love. We planned the food menu, gathered supplies and set up a fire-pit for roasting marshmallows. We made posters for everyone to hold with messages like, “I’m homeless not hopeless,” “I matter” and “Please don’t give up on me.” These helped people shift their perspective on people experiencing homelessness. We also focused on sending thank you notes and messages to all the people who donated. There is always a lot that goes on in the background to make an event a success, and in this case, a huge success!
On Saturday, September 12, it was a rainy, stormy day. We thought about canceling but decided not to. People experiencing homelessness can’t just cancel, they’ve got to figure it out and find a dry place to sleep, so we would do the same.
Participants arrived with their sleeping bags and cardboard. Some were members of the community and some were Showering Love guests, but they all connected! It was beautiful to see.
The Sleep Out Begins
For this sleep out, we distributed gift bags. We put inside every gift bag a flashlight, a trophy for the unsung heroes, ear plugs, face masks, eye masks, and bug repellent bracelets. We also gifted new sleeping bags to our homeless guests.
Jeanne’s husband, Bob, worked long, hot hours grilling chicken on the barbecue. And our friend , Betsy made baked beans and roasted asparagus for everyone. The food was delicious!
We then all sat in a circle and asked everyone to share why they chose to participate in this event. It was a beautiful night listening to the crackling of the fire as it illuminated the guests making s’mores. There were tears and laughter. Our homeless guests shared about their lives and their hopes for the future. Their stories were filled with trauma, pain, and hope. One guest shared that he had been so hungry he had eaten grass!!
Our friend, Matthew Racher came by to sing and play his guitar for us. He had written a song dedicated to the memory of Rowdy Gifford, who passed away this year. Rowdy planned and built the Showering Love bus and is a dear friend who is sorely missed.
Time to Sleep
And then it was time to sleep. Some slept under the carport, others slept outside under a tree and one slept in his car. For many working people and college students, their cars are their shelters. They can’t afford housing!
It rained and thundered several times throughout the night, but everyone stayed until 6:00 a.m. Most people shared the next day that they didn’t sleep, as all they could think of was going home, getting a shower and going to bed. The sad part is we all had homes to go to, but not the two guests who are experiencing homelessness.
But here’s the good news …. we raised almost $7,000!!
None of this would have been possible without the support of the commUNITY. There are not enough words to share the gratitude Showering Love has for your support. As a result of your support, we will be able to continue providing showers with wraparound health services. We will continue to restore DIGNITY and HOPE with the money we raised. Whether you donated, shared our post, or participated, you are a part of changing the world. You are a change maker.