by Janine Beaman
Today in Seattle, the sky is clear; the sun is making a cameo; and dry, cold December air whips right through to the bones. I’m sitting in my usual spot downtown on my lunch break, affectionately called “The Bricks.” I’ve been coming here for 2 years. In the summertime, I can sit at The Bricks on any given day and find someone to chat with while I eat. Some of my lunch buddies have become friends. We look for each other, smile big, split a sandwich, and tell tales of lives past.
My friends from The Bricks are all just a little younger than my mother and father. They found themselves in Seattle one way or another, chasing dreams or love or running away from circumstance. And all of them have at sometime or another, stumbled on one or two of those hurdles that life tends to throw in our paths. None of them believed they’d find themselves among the city’s “chronically homeless,” spending their days surviving, and their nights resting on benches or in doorways.
As the temperature dips, I’m saying an extra prayer for my friends from The Bricks, that they find warm meals and beds tonight. Shelter for our homeless population is limited. There are an estimated 8,800 homeless men, women and children living in King County and only 6,200 beds in shelters. Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission (UGM) is the one place where everyone I’ve met at The Bricks has said they can go for a meal or to sleep. UGM opened its doors to offer food to hungry people during the Great Depression over 80 years ago and today they provide emergency food, shelter, education programs, and recovery services to those among us most in need.
Beyond food and shelter, UGM also provides a healthy dose of hope. When it gets cold like this, my meetings with my lunchtime friends become infrequent and irregular. I worry about them. I lean on faith in God’s mercy, say prayers for safekeeping and feel a little better knowing that we all have places like the Mission if ever we need them.
A couple weeks back, my friend Jack tapped on the window of the Metro bus I was riding as it slowly rolled away from a stop in Pioneer Square. We grinned at each other through the glass. “You’re OK. I’m OK.” Hope.
Next Thursday the 19th, I’m honored to host A Few of My Favorite Things, a night for friends, music, dancing, revelry and most importantly giving to an organization that works to give so much others, Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission.
It’s only getting colder out there. Please warm your heart up and join me for an intimate performance from the brilliantly talented Hollis and groove all night with two of Seattle’s favorite DJs, Vitamin D and WD4D. I look forward to seeing you all there. – Janine