It was another of many sermons on homelessness delivered at the Congregational Church in Norwell. But the message, on a Sunday morning two years ago, resonated with at least one member of the congregation. "Our pastor always leaves us with something to think about on Sundays," recalled Norwell resident Christina Nordstrom. "He said you need a personal relationship with people. Don't just throw some money in a cup and pass by."
Park Street Angels: A Chronicle of Hope - An Excerpt
One day en [new] route to work, I noticed a man sitting in front of the Park Street Church. I passed him there every day for a few days, noticing him out of the corner of my eye to avoid becoming “engaged.” He had white-grey hair, a beard and glasses which made him look kind of like a Dickensian St. Nicholas. But he was dressed in a T-shirt, jeans and a baseball cap like any contemporary of mine [OK, an old “hippie”]. From a short distance, I could read one of the hand-written signs that sat next to him on the sidewalk. It demanded: “SMILE: It’s the Law.” I obeyed the law, but kept walking.
While publication of Park Street Angels is where my journal ended, finding housing for Bob was not to be the end of my story. Sue and Jonathan, my son and I continued to visit him in his new digs from time to time – sometimes for holidays, sometimes for no particular reason. Our folk group, “Earth Harmony,” played for the residents there one Sunday afternoon and Sue came with us – she loved hanging out with the band! During our visits staff would come in bringing his medicine and check to see if he needed anything. They would also wash any dishes he had, took care of his cleaning and laundry, too.
Bob Wright journaled about his life on the street – he wanted people to know first-hand about the experience of not having the basic necessities or the sense of belonging, of being alone in the world without consistent, secure shelter – indeed, of being forgotten. Before he died he told me that I should be the one to keep his hand-written notes that he kept over so many years. After his death, I received the note pads and have transcribed them into a journal for him, entitled “Life from the Milk Crate,” a description which was taken from his writings. I’ve given the transcriptions to folks at Hearth to share as appropriate.
Stories From the Shadows: Reflections of a Street Doctor
Dr. O'Connell’s collection of stories and essays, written during thirty years of caring for homeless persons in Boston, gently illuminates the humanity and raw courage of those who struggle to survive and find meaning and hope while living on the streets.
Filmmaker James Redford's compelling film PAPER TIGERS captures the pain, the danger, the beauty, and the hopes of struggling teens – and the teachers armed with new science and fresh approaches that are changing their lives for the better.