Saturday, June 5
The only thing hotter than the weather this week was the breakfast burritos (ba dum dum!). We had guests coming up to our tables saying, “I heard from three different people that you have real good burritos over here!”
One upside of the heat was that all kinds of folks gravitated over to us for a cold drink and stood around in the shade chatting with us while they cooled off. Two moments stood out for me:
A young man asked if he could give me a few dollars for a bottle of water and a hand-sanitizer. I gave him the items but tried to refuse his money. He insisted on paying, and showed me the faded scars on his arm where he used to have needle tracks. He said, “I’m eight years clean and I’m down here to cash my paycheck because I’m friends with the people at the check-cashing place across the street. I’m doing ok now. And some people helped me out when I was in bad shape and I needed it, so I want to pay that back by helping other people who need it more than me now.”
A middle-aged man on a bike came up and asked for some iced tea. I started talking with him while he was cooling down and I could see in his eyes right away that he was having a hard day. He said that he has been trying to get a job and do the right thing, but that as a convicted felon, it was a struggle to get hired. He said he wasn’t going to give up, but that it was just really hard and he sometimes loses hope. He asked if we would pray with him, and I could see he was on the verge of tears. I asked him to lead the way (as I do not have a religious background) and he said he didn’t know the right words. The man standing next to him said, “Just speak from your heart.” The other volunteers and I all bowed our heads while he asked for a blessing on us, not on him, but on us, for offering help to the community and for supporting him. When I looked up, he was crying and I asked if I could give him a hug. It was the most intense and most beautiful moment I have had out there on the street. Our amazing volunteers and I can’t fix our city’s and our country’s systemic problems, but we can show up with our whole hearts and be present with our fellow humans, our fellow Baltimoreans. We can bring the love and the food. And hopefully the few minutes of connection that someone finds with us can carry them through a hard moment, a hard day, and maybe even bring them back to see us next week.
Stats: 88 breakfast burritos, 40+ bag lunches, 5 gallons mango iced tea, 64 bottles of cold water, clementines and bananas, and bottles of water. We also handed out masks, soap, sanitizer, and toothbrushes and toothpaste.