Joining the Inn Crowd

As we wrap up our second annual Martin Luther King Jr. Month of Service Learning, I am realizing that I haven't shared a single word or photo of our experiences this year. January has been quite a whirlwind and I have been a little short on time for such things, but also I struggled with what to share. It seemed like there wasn't anything new or insightful to say. However, as the service learners tucked the last sheet at Room in the Inn and we had our last little post-service talk I realized that maybe we did touch on something new this year.

During one of our sessions, I had to explain to my young friends that a warm bed was not guaranteed to the first person to arrive at Room in the Inn's Carpenter House just because they arrived first. "But that's just unfair! The first person deserves a spot!" - a familiar sentiment and one that I have admittedly shared before I really stopped to think about what that means. Inspired by a facebook post from Manna House, I explained that sometimes fairness isn't a reward for arriving first, but sometimes it's an acknowledgement that those who need something the most, might not be able to get there first. Wouldn't it be even more unfair to offer beds to the strongest of those in need, while the most vulnerable are turned away?

At another session, when we were sharing possible causes of homelessness, the conversation shifted to how do you know if someone IS homeless... IS really in need.

"He has a job. He must be bad at spending his money."
...Or maybe any number of financial burdens, personal tragedies, or natural disasters has caused him to beg for bus fare to get to a shelter for the night.

"She drove to the soup kitchen in a car, she can buy her own food!"
... But what if that car is her home? What if it is the only means for her to get to a job that doesn't pay well enough for her to feed her family as well as herself?  

"His shoes are shiny and new. If he can afford to buy new shoes, why does he need our help?"
... How do we know that he wasn't walking around barefoot and someone took the shoes off their own feet to help him out?

Examples were flying around the room- notions I've heard before and likely thought myself. As I tried to offer alternative scenarios for every cynical statement and noted that such judgements were very unfair, something happened. One friend turned to another and said, "I just don't know if any of those things would happen. Like, giving away your shoes. I don't know anyone who would do that." A second friend replied, "I know someone who would give away their own shoes." A third friend replied, "I would totally do it. I have more shoes." Then a fourth friend replied to the first friend, "See, you do know people who would do that after all!"
Welcome to the "Inn Crowd!" 
 Who wouldn't want to be part of this group?!

If you're not familiar with Room in the Inn you can follow the link,
find Friends of RITI on facebook to learn more, or check out previous posts about RITI service projects.

Birthday Party + Sock Drive

From Christmas to a double-digit birthday, our celebratory season has come to an end. And our finale celebration was the biggest birthday party we've ever had. I think the socks were rocked off all our guests!

As we begin a new year with immeasurable gratitude for so many wonderful gifts, we are most grateful for our friends and family who are always there to help. Thank you for warming not only our hearts, but also the toes of our community's most vulnerable members.

We collected over 325 pairs of socks and had a blast playing Just Dance and Rock Band, cornhole and hopscotch, and posing for pictures in the photo booth and selfie station. I think the pictures below tell the story better than I ever could!