Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Entertaining Angels on Skid Row

By Hannah Petcovic

While I could fill this entire newsletter with insights gained in my short time in the job, my most impactful lesson is that the paths to homelessness are innumerable. In four months, I have listened to testimonies about prison, gangs, relocation from across the country and across the worlds, undiagnosed mental illness, job loss, loss of a family member, cocaine, alcohol, methamphetamine, child abuse, intellectual disabilities, and even one gentlemen who wanted to “try out the hobo thing.”

At the Cardinal Manning Center (CMC), you may be the first person to teach a client about saving money. You may be called to help as someone plonks out the first email they’ve ever written in their life. One client may need immigration-related legal services, and another, some time to play Ping-Pong. And sometimes, you may stop all of this and let God do the work.

I once met with a resident for months to work on housing applications. The final process was a random room number assignment. “Miss Hannah,” he told me, “I’ve been praying for a room on the top floor, facing the back.”  Today, he watches the sunrise from this precise location every morning!

A recent CMC graduate we helped into housing recently wrote this in a letter:

“As you know tomorrow is my last day at the Cardinal Manning Center…I am looking for words bigger than ‘thank you’ to say to you and the staff. Had I not been accepted to the Cardinal Manning Center there was a very good chance something very bad might have happened to me. Your job is way bigger than being professional. You’re in the business of saving lives. You’ve saved mine.”
In serving each person who finds his way here, I think of this verse from Hebrews 13:2: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

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