For a long time my mom has wanted to visit the the Rescue Mission in downtown Roanoke, Virginia. She’s often mentioned the wonderful things she’d read in her local paper of how the homeless and the hungry are helped day after day. So off we go to join in on their Monday noon tour. I’m thinking…a quickie tour, you’ve seen one homeless shelter you’ve seen them all kinda tour…well…not so much.
For most of my life, hearing the words homeless people would bring to mind drug addicts, criminals and just plain lazy people who chose not to work. As a child, I grew up with them on the Roanoke City Market when I went with my dad to sell produce from our farm. I stepped over them during the 80′s when I visited New York City. But fast forward and today we have families who have lost their jobs and their homes, women and children who escaped from abusive relationships, the elderly who have run out of money, and the chemically dependent without the means to receive assistance.
We started the tour by passing through the dining room. Standing in the line to be served lunch could have easily been me or my parents, the majority not fitting the stereotype that we often conjure up in our minds. For the next two hours we saw first hand the programs to help people physically, psychologically, socially and spiritually and the facilities – a state of the art medical clinic, a residential recovery program, an adult learning center, a pottery studio, a hair salon, a thrift store…
But there was one small thing that really touched my heart. Every bed at the mission had a handmade quilt. A touch of home. The symbolism for family, security and warmth. A touch from the people who made them, a touch from the ones who wash them, a touch from the ones who make the beds…everyone having a part in creating that sense of security and warmth of that someone who curls up and sleeps each night under that handmade quilt.
Thanks mom for the push to see the Rescue Mission. We have all been touched by something very special.