A brief synopsis of the week at the Ecumenical Chaplaincy for the Homeless

This was a busy week at the Chaplaincy. Temperatures dropped to freezing levels in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. This brings more people inside the Lodestar Day Resource Center where the ECH is located. This first week of February (and the last day of January) found 163 people coming through our doors.

A general inventory of documents obtained or filed this week:

15 Arizona State Identification Cards
27 Birth Certificates
22 Duplicate Arizona ID’s or Drivers Licenses
24 Hygiene Kits
8 Immigration Documents

Here are a few of the people who came through our doors this week.

Daniel is 63 and was born in Texas near the border of Mexico. In 1947 the border was very porous and although he was born in Texas; his mother crossed back and forth freely. Half of her children were born in Texas and half in Mexico. His birth was never recorded with the state of Texas. Not unheard of, especially in 1947 when many births occurred in rural homes. He first came to see us in November of 2009 and we began methodically putting together all the documentation he needed to file for a delayed certificate of birth in the state of Texas. We ordered grade school records and his selective service records, military records and birth certificates of his adult children. Finally this week Daniel had enough documentation to prove who he was to the state of Texas. His application was mailed yesterday.

Osvaldo is my Cuban friend. He and his brother Fransisco arrived from Cuba in 1980 and surfaced in Phoenix shortly thereafter. We first met the brothers in 2007. Through our immigration document replacement expertise the ECH was able to assist both brothers with replacing their Work Authorization Cards and both are now gainfully employed and on their way to getting their lives back.

Now for Larry. Larry is 65. I see Larry everyday. He has taken a liking to me, recently chiding me for cutting my hair short. Larry is one of the chronically homeless. He is an alcoholic with no desire to quit. This he tells me. Larry will seek me out to help him make phone calls to social security or his bank (he gets a check). Larry is in a wheelchair and sleeps outside. By choice you might say and he would agree. But Larry has a spark in him. He may be dirty and unkempt and often smells as dirty as he looks but he keeps his wits about him. He’ll grab my hand and tell me how much he likes me. I’ll pat his hand and ask him when he’s going to stop drinking and rejoin society. Larry and I have a nice little banter we go through. I hope that Larry will one day take the step necessary to move forward. I watch him and realize that the wheels are just spinning on his wheelchair. For whatever reason, Larry is stuck in his present inebriated point in time. But I know Larry has it in him to move forward and one day when I pat his hand and ask him when he’s going to quit drinking… he will look at me and say ‘Today’ and we’ll be there to help him.