There were but two people who came to the prayer service at Resurrection House today.
One was a regular. I know him only by his street name of "Blue". He is at one and the same time a lost sheep and a plausible rogue.
Blue, in his early thirties, always makes a fuss of me when our paths cross at Res House. Of course I do not trust this "fuss". For it always precedes a request for dough.
About a month ago I entrusted my wallet to the Director of Res House just before the service, so that I could tell Blue that I did not have any money "on me".
This morning I decided not to be disingenuous. When, after the prayer service, Blue asked me for money I simply said "No, I will not give you money".
The other worshipper was a newbie. His name is D. and I guess that he is about 25 years old. He has an open, honest and friendly face. He prayed with clear sincerity.
After service D told me that "we" (I do not know who is the other part of "we"), had come from Michigan to live with his Uncle, but that this Uncle is in the hospital so "we" will be on the streets until Uncle recovers. Who knows?
I wanted to grab these two young men and say "you do not have to live this way". I wanted to be able to tell them about job training opportunities in SRQ, and about decent housing for indigent or low income men. I wanted to tell them about free and accessible mental health care.
But that would have been impossible. There is no job training, there is no low income housing, there is no decent mental health service for the poor.
The City of Sarasota, and Sarasota County have just caved on a plan to provide a full service "Homeless Shelter" for men such as Blue and D. The City and County retreated from the plan in the face of ill-informed public pressure - the NIMBY factor.
The City and County chose to retreat in the face of the myth that homeless people are thieving varmints, or irresponsible leeches, or lazy free-loaders.
But never fear. The City has a new plan. They want to use a mixture of public money and charitable donations to offer homeless folks a one way travel ticket (up to a value of $1,000) so that the homeless can be shipped back to their City/State/Town place of origin.
The City has no plan to provide essential services to homeless men, woman and families who are Sarasota natives.
To be honest, my only plan is to pray with plausible rogues such as Blue, and lost sheep such as D.