It was sixty-two degrees yesterday and got as low as forty-three degrees at night, but you wouldn’t know it from Alice, who resides in Verdi Square in Manhattan. I use “reside” generously, as Alice is homeless and has been for the past three months. Her demeanor was anything but that which I would expect from a homeless woman; she was friendly, comical, even gregarious, and utterly willing to discuss her current state.
“I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t gamble, I don’t have sex, I don’t do any of that stuff,” she told my partner and me during our Midnight Run. “I want to live a wholesome life with good people. I may be homeless, but I still have my dignity.”
Not exactly what you’d expect to hear from a woman on a bench with a cart beside her.
I participated in a Midnight Run last night with some of my residents, the run being an aspect of GO with which I am now actually familiar. It was phenomenal. Fordham views Midnight Runs as mini GO trips, during which students go out into Manhattan and give food, toiletries, and clothing to the poor. The crux of it, though, is that we're not there to give, but to actually converse with people. As the Midnight Run site puts it, "The late-night relief efforts create a forum for trust, sharing, understanding and affection. That human exchange, rather than the exchange of goods, is the essence of the Midnight Run mission."
Happily, Fordham is just one of many organizations that sponsor the runs. I was in the city on Saturday night and ran into a run from a public high school! They're usually advertised as church-based projects, but I was impressed to see that the effort had extended even beyond that. Everyone should get to participate in an experience like this, even public high school students.