It is early morning on the second Saturday of the month and still dark. Shadowy figures line up out side the 6th Ave gate, bags of belongings by their sides. On any other day, in any other place you might feel uncomfortable passing them in the dark, but the volunteers at Showers of Blessings are overjoyed to see them. We worked hard the day before
staging our equipment, but now it all must be put into place.
Randy, Leon and Uriah are always first, and they know just what to do: 13 tables to be set up, racks of folding chairs brought out and placed, trash cans set and pop up tents and umbrellas raised. Randy takes charge of setting up the guild room for the breakfast that our Methodist partners serve at 8. By 7 we are all set up to start giving showers. Guests come through all morning getting their nametags, their number for showers, haircuts, clothes and hygiene supplies. They sit and chat with us and drink coffee and there is a feeling of comfort, safety and familiarity that all of us enjoy.
Many have become friends: Cheryl knits caps and socks, and also paints beautiful floral note cards that she sells. Candice brings bouquets of flowers for the tables, Manny cuts hair, and Aaron plays piano in the Guild room and the great Hall when he is here. A new guest last month played Rhapsody In Blue in the Guild Room so beautifully it took our breath away. Working in a ministry that serves the homeless you soon learn that we are all so much more than our current circumstances might seem to suggest. Showers has given our community, guests and volunteers a like, the great blessing of unfolding all our capacities for kindness, artistry, helpfulness generosity and joy.
And last but not least is the amazing Chuck who came as a showers guest a couple of years ago and is now one of our Sextons, responsible for cleaning, fixing, setting up and breaking down much of what goes on here. Chuck is a great reader of books and loves to talk about them, and he is also an artist with paints and easel. He works at the Rose Garden on the other side of the park near the canyon where he also sleeps. Sometime ago he decided our gardens needed help. So with bags of mulch and new plants he set about redesigning our patio gardens, even extending them outside our gate for passersby to enjoy. Now he does all of our lawn and gardening maintenance.
Showers of Blessings began here 3 ½ years ago with a handful of dedicated volunteers. We served 10 guests. Today we are 20 core volunteers, and in the last 12 months we have served 1,190 guests.
I am overjoyed to be a part of this community that cares and works hard to make life just a little easier for those in need, and there is no place I would rather be on the second Saturday of the month than welcoming our friends at the gate.