Don’t Walk By is an annual winter outreach to our neighbors surviving on the street. The outreach encourages New Yorkers to put into practice the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). Over the past decade, Don’t Walk By volunteers have canvassed the streets of Manhattan, met over 10,000 individuals and invited them back to a host site. There, guests of the NYC Rescue Alliance were offered a hot meal, clothing, basic medical care, and connection to ongoing support.
This year, All Angels’ Community Ministries lead the overnight hospitality task force in collaboration with the NYC Rescue Mission. On February 2nd and 9th, All Angels’ opened its doors for shelter for over 30 men and women brought to us through Don’t Walk By. A handful of those guests still come to us for Sunday shelter, church services, and/or our Pathways drop-in program.
“Ever walk by a homeless person and wonder to yourself, ‘what can I do to help?’ Well, at All Angels’ we’re constantly thinking of ways to alleviate the effects of homelessness, and in February we participated as host to shelter as many in need as we could as part of the Don’t Walk By initiative. I was one of the hosts for those evenings, and I’m richer for it.
As someone who is still dealing with the trauma of being homeless, I often wondered what the purpose of my life is or will be, and that evening I felt that I just might be finding the answer to this question.
As we set up our shelter, I wanted to create a welcoming, warm, relaxing environment for our guests. That included lighting, aroma therapy, food and drink, a warm bed and shower, and even a movie. We were also able to offer clothes and such from our donation bins. While that was half the mission, the most important component to me is the human one. Greeting my guests, having small talk with them, and sharing our experiences was the most gratifying aspect and I have found a real knack for this. I strongly believe in greeting someone with a smile, handshake, and looking into their eyes–barriers crumble. Our guests deserve to be treated with respect and compassion.
The next morning there was a light breakfast and conversation. I was blown away by my guests. They were gracious and wanted me to know how much they loved their stay actually stating it was the best shelter they ever stayed in and asking when they could return. Seeing them so happy and rested–maybe even walking a little taller–filled my heart. I think this is where God wants me, so, ironically, I came in wanting to give to those in need and instead received more from them then I could ever give.
To my guest for those two nights, thank you for giving me direction, value, and purpose. To the NYC Rescue Alliance, my fellow angels at All Angels’, our clergy, management, volunteers, and support staff… keep doing God’s work. Amazing!
To all who read this, a challenge of sorts: starting ASAP, smile and see God’s love flourish. Praise God and God’s Kingdom awaits.”
CM participant and part-time All Angels’ Support Staff team member