Thursday, December 31, 2009

Looking Toward a New Year

Wednesday was our last trip for 2009. Exciting for us perhaps, yet just another cold day for our friends who live at camp sites and in abandoned houses. Greg said he'd celebrate the new year by watching his wristwatch turn to midnight.

For those of us who have gone out several times this year, the sights and smells of the experience are taking on new meanings. Scents of tomato soup and hotdogs (two of our regular dishes) now cause us to recollect Wednesday nights on the streets of Akron, rather than the warmth of home or the cheers of a ballpark. They are pleasant reminders of our friends and the struggles they endure.

Update from December 17: Last week, we delivered Katie's gifts (notebook and book) to Gizmo. Wednesday, Katie found out that Gizmo read the book and would like to read it again.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Akron

Driving past Lock 3, we wanted desperately to go ice-skating and partake in the holiday festivities. Before venturing out, we exchanged game plans for Christmas Eve: which relative's house does the family gather, what's cooked, when are gifts exchanged. This December 23rd was to be a different one for this Hoban crew. Here we stood out in the cold with our friends of the Mayflower and St. Bernard Church, exchanging gifts of comradery, trust and lending an ear. Such gifts proved quite powerful.

Despite the chill, this was a comforting night. Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Shivering All the Way

Whether it's cold, hot, rainy or snowy Wednesday nights always include two moving components: teenagers caring and loving and being active, as well as the near unbelievable stories of people down 'n out in Akron.

Watching our students pour out of the van and cater to the needs of our friends on the streets gives us teachers a great sense of positivity. These kids usually get a bad rap for being apathetic, but the students on Wednesday nights put that misconception to shame. Students, shivering in the cold, refuse to let their smiles go.

At the same time, these same students hear stories filled with pain. On this night, our friends on the streets worried about keeping their food and drinks from freezing at their camps. They've spent hours finding and cutting wood for their fires in order to keep some warmth around them.

Sometimes the two mix. Katie listened carefully while Gizmo told her about a book he was reading to someone who can't read. Gizmo wished for a notebook so he could jot some notes down about the book. Moved, Katie was determined to come through for Gizmo. I'm confident she won't let him down.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Frigid Spirits

The winter wind gusted temperatures below 20 degrees. All movement was uncomfortable and you had to wonder how one could possibly live out here.

With our fingers numbing and are voices quivering, we again tried the best we could to bring light to our frigid friends.

However, the cold was obviously having an effect on our friends. Dave who's usually very outspoken was silenced some. Greg was forced to sit down to try to catch his wits.

Again, emotions proved more warming than either the soup or sandwiches. The roller coaster continued to wildly speed ahead.

Despite the cold or emotions, we made sure to sing "Happy Birthday" to Dave and Ron with a horrendously out of tune, though true, Spirit.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Positive Light

A small group of HOPE'sters took to the dark and damp night in Akron. It's our first December, and the emerging frigid Akron cold is upon us. Streams of rain water wash down the shiny streets as we scoop cups of soup and bun hotdogs.

As always it's a night on an emotional rollercoaster--joyous to see friends, yet hard to hear moments of desperation in their words.

What can we do? What can we truly do to help? We settle for the moment with bringing to our friends all we can at the moment: a positive light.