I met Nick the week before as he pushed a shopping cart through the mud. He labored as I approached him to ask if he would like a piece of pizza. He appreciated the pizza very much as he explained that it was first thing he had to eat today. I saw Nick a little later and asked what the mysterious, cement-looking box was that he had in the cart. I was only curious because of how hard it looked to push. It was a safe.
The next tent is a familiar one. It is a lady who is always alone and usually in a bad mood. She opens her tent and is sobbing. She asks for some pizza. I give her a slice and hope it will ease some pain.
Under the overpass it is a steep climb to get to an area where there is enough room for a sleeping bag. It is another man in his 50’s sleeping. “Pizza,” I say, and Sam wakes and unzips his beaten up bag to give me a half toothless smile. “Oh man, Thanks you, God Bless” as I hand him a piece. Pizza goes fast….
Climbing over the cement guardrail next to the freeway, I run into a lady who has a radiant smile. There is no pizza but there is one bottle of water. She graciously takes it and sends me off with a blessing. She is the lady I would sit by at church. She has no name because I have never asked, but she is important, and has a beautiful smile. She climbs over the guardrail, fixes her scarf and heads up the slippery hill towards her tattered tent.
Those stories came from 3 slices of pizza.
I have spent the past year and a half following the homeless in Seattle with a piece of pizza. It has given me more than I could have ever imagined. The conversation, expectation, apprehension, and motivation have all changed almost on a weekly basis. Knowing that the reality of homelessness has not changed for many, it gives me great solace that it has changed me. I was pushed out on the street when I was looking for a change from the SVDP, a local non-profit, routine. It started with a donut and coffee to something more sustainable like pizza. What I thought would be perfect, the donut and coffee, was not accepted very well. What I found was that my treat was not what was needed. Pizza seems to be the perfect answer. Everyone likes it and it is easy to handle.
The homeless continue to move from one location to another. As soon as it looks stable, the site is fenced up and they are pushed to set up in a different area. The geographical area stays the same, but the people are consistently pushed from one block to the next. I really don't pay attention to the “why” of it all, I just try to pay attention to the “where.” I spend my time in the I-90 I-5 intersection. I pick up my Pizzas at Costco along with a case of water and start my venture. It is never disappointing. I am not sure if it is appropriate to ask for money but that is why I am trying to share this story. I will continue to do this, 3 pizzas at a time, but I would do more if I had support. It would have been easy to have 6 pizzas today. I always go with three as it runs about $35 twice a week. I will always put in the $70/week but if it was more I would gladly buy more.
I greatly appreciate any support, from $0.01 to $100. Anything helps to allow people to have just one more slice of pizza.
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