Posted on December 11, 2018
For most people, the holidays mean spending time with loved ones. Christmas time highlights family gatherings, the blessings of being together, and sharing unconditional love.
For Richard, thoughts of family gatherings and feasting over the Christmas table bring up memories of his Mom, who passed away in 2005. She was, he says, “a saint, my angel and my protector.” Throughout school, when he was labelled a troubled kid, and came to believe he couldn’t learn, Richard says his mother would be waiting at home for him with toast and tea. She was there too, through the heartbreak of his two divorces, and his struggles with substance abuse. After his Mom died, Richard slowly lost stability in his life.
Today, Richard, 54, has been sleeping in a homeless shelter for almost two years. He left his apartment when the strata council told him his beloved dog, Decimus, would have to go. For Richard, losing his furry friend was unthinkable. He says Decimus is a constant source of companionship and love. “He keeps me on a good path. He keeps me humble and responsible,” he says. “From day one he has given me nothing but love.”
Being homeless is not easy, Richard admits. He plans each day carefully, to find the basics he needs for survival, and that includes a nightly visit to NightShift for a meal, fresh socks, prayer and unconditional love. “I show up 15 minutes early every night so I don’t miss it,” he says. “It’s so nourishing to me, and it improves my outlook knowing I have the meal to look forward to every night.”
There is more to Richard’s visits than meals, or even the prescription glasses he received after one of NightShift’s free vision screenings. Richard says he is treated with respect, and is shown love. “I haven’t met one person at NightShift who is judgmental,” he shares. “People here really care. I see love in them. With their insides, they really love people.”
Richard comes to NightShift for a hot meal, but he finds something more – a community of unconditional love and acceptance. With your help, NightShift Street Ministries can continue reaching out, to people like Richard, 365 nights a year, with hot soup, basic clothing, prayer, and programs like the free vision screening.
Give the gift of helping those in need find unconditional love.