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How the heck do some people stay cheerful in the most dire circumstance?

Updated: Dec 25, 2019

Serving lunch to the homeless at St Vincent de Paul’s

It was a Saturday and I was really looking forward to going to the St Vincent de Paul’s facility in downtown Phoenix and serve lunch to the homeless. As usual I chose to be a busboy.

The task is simple: keep the tables and floor clean with a moist rag. I like this particular task because it provides the opportunity to get close to these folks and ask how they’re doing and if I could get them anything. Usually everyone is very polite but once in a while you encounter people who are emotionally disturbed and one just learns to be a calming presence or get help. But I digress.

This particular day, someone asked where the restrooms were? I went around the hallway and found them in a remote corner which was okay. But they were out of order which was definitely not okay. So I asked the organizers and was told there were some outside in another building. I went out to see for myself.

Meeting Bless amongst the homeless outside the St Vincent de Paul Building

Outside, I saw homeless people being treated or just idling in the parklike area ... alone or in small groups. I walked into them.

Almost immediately I saw Bless sitting on a picnic table bench with all his belongings on it or on the side. Noticing me noticing him, he invited me over. There was a whole pumpkin pie on the table. During our conversation, many times he offered me the pumpkin pie. I declined each time. 

Bless’s story:

What struck me initially is that one of Bless’s hands was missing. Looking some more I saw the second hand missing too! Apparently he had lost both hands as a child.

So I was intrigued and Bless had my full attention and he was so friendly that he talked and I listened ... standing/leaning against a tree and enjoying the wintry 🌞 sunshine!

Bless was from Kentucky. His parents died a short while ago and he came to Phoenix to take care of their simple house. Arriving, he found it totally trashed and so for a whole year he has been homeless while fixing this house. Lacking money and resources, Bless has had to struggle.

Bless talked about his home state Kentucky and his eyes lit up. A smile and grin never left his face. He said:

  • The grass was really blue (google says bluish purple spring buds give rich blue cast to the green grass!)

  • The women are the most beautiful  - both black and white as they were raised well! They win the beauty pageants all the time! I said I’d check it out on google 🙂

  • 195 proof moonshine (historically high proof illicit distilled liquor/whiskey made from corn) was clearer than the water in the bottle on the picnic table.

  • “Hollows” is a depressed area which would start as a road and then dip down into a large cavern or hole hundreds of feet deep; these hollows were all over Kentucky! Again I said I’d check it on google!

  • Muhammad Ali was from Kentucky and has many buildings and places named after him.

Happily, Bless rambled on about Kentucky...

Then a call from Zebi cut short this visit and I left with a distinctive feeling that Bless is not just homeless but very homesick as well!

Photo 1: Bless, bereft of arms, and with almost nothing at all except an ever present smile!

Photo 2: The functional restrooms were located in the building to the left


Photo 3: Volunteers and experienced folks cater to the needs of the homeless 

Photo 4: The homeless idle in this parklike area 

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