Lakewood United Methodist Church
Sunday, May 19, 2013
North Little Rock, Arkansas
AN INTERESTING, WORTHY, AND HEART-WARMING EXPERIENCE.
Last night, January 13 (Friday the 13th came on Thursday this month), the LUMC Missions Team once again fed the hungry and homeless, as is their monthly custom. Only on this occasion, because of the bitter cold, we took our food and drinks to the Canvas Church, the relatively new church facility in downtown Little Rock. It is on 7th Street, a block east of Vino's, the Community Theater, etc. It is in an old building which used to be a tattoo parlor. The Canvas Church had been designated a warm house due to the cold, and people stayed overnight there for three nights (including THAT night).
The place was a madhouse of activity -- people and stuff. There were probably close to 200 people in the room (including the volunteers). There were backpacks and sleeping bags and old furniture everywhere. Decorative chandeliers (not matching) provided light. In one corner near the entrance was a large stack of folding cots, apparently to be set up later that night. On one wall was a large screen, on which was projected a television signal. A raised platform under it apparently was for a lectern, bandstand, speakers, etc. At the far end of the room was an "L" of tables for serving. Near that area there were a dozen tables with chairs for eating. There were numerous couches and other living-room-type chairs throughout the room.
Near the entrance was a table where people who were staying overnight had to check in. I think I heard an announcement for anyone who wanted to check out a cell phone, to come to that desk and sign up for one. A bookcase held a variety of books. A table held several magazines, handouts, brochures, etc., probably for services available to the homeless. People were very polite and relatively quiet, probably too cold and confused because of the situation, to do otherwise.
Anyway the woman who started the Broadway Bridge Project several years ago and has been coordinating it ever since, told Michael for us to bring our food and serve there, so we did. What we didn't know ahead of time was that another church also came to serve food, which had been prepared in the back room (now a kitchen). THEY didn't know WE were coming. So we had more food and servers than were really needed, but everyone pitched in and everything came off just fine. Andrea gave a nice blessing over the PA system, and there was a chorus of AMENS at the end.
We set up our two big pots of chili and beans, plus our cases of soft drinks and bottled water, a bowl of cheese, salsa, peppers, fruit (bananas and oranges) and desserts (cookies, Moon Pies, etc.). Slices of pound cake were already out on paper plates so we held ours back if needed. Also, containers of lemonade were also already out, so there were plenty of choices. SOmeone brought out trays of biscuits, so they went nicely with our food.
It was estimated that we served over 150 people. All of them got through the line for our food, and then more food was brought out and the announcement was made that anyone could go back for seconds (and thirds). There was barbecue chicken and chicken fingers and broccoli casserole. No one went away hungry. Everyone who wanted one got a good, hot meal.
We packed up our pots and utensils, and left, knowing that we had made a major contribution to the hungry and homeless for one night. We left all the food and drinks not eaten, knowing they WOULD be eaten soon. I understand the church was going to have breakfast, lunch and dinner again today (Friday), and provide a warm house again tonight, and then shut down because the temperatures were to go back up over the weekend and into next week. But I assume they will reopen the next time the temperatures drop.
And, as Walter Cronkite used to say: "That's the was it was."
Here are some photos I took. The lighting was not very good, and I was busy doing a variety of things (including collecting soft drink cans and cardboard for recycling).
Dennis, Your roving reporter.
(I didn't have all the e-mail addresses, so please forward this to whomever you think might be interested.)
A SHOT OF THE SERVING AREA. You can see the mass of servers to the left and back.
THE SCREEN and STAGE AREA:
AN OVERALL SHOT OF THE INTERESTING ROOM, from near the entrance.
THE STACK OF FOLDING COTS near the entrance.
A SHOT OF THE CROWDED SERVING AREA, from near the stage.
THE SERVING LINE, WITH THE "NEW" food being served (from various restaurants around town).
LOOKING BACK FROM THE SERVING AREA, toward the screen and stage. Notice the lighting. The woman in green at the left is the overall coordinator of the Broadway Bridge Project.
THE SERVING AREA, near the end of the evening. Most people had been through by then. There are Pat and Michael at the right. Notice all the big art work on the walls. Those are on walls throughout the room. Very interesting.
THE MAIN ENTRANCE of the Canvas Church. They need a BIG SIGN over than entrance. Any volunteers?
ANOTHER VIEW OF THE ENTRANCE, with the LUMC church bus at the right. Rex Winkley (who drove the bus) was yelling at me to come get on the bus so this was my last shot. A dozen or more people were milling around the entrance, coming and going. Apparently the word on the streets got out quickly, about the food and lodging.