It’s difficult not to be overcome with the emotions of commiseration and frustration. As the night sinks in, including its chill, everyone who hasn’t found a place gathers together in the small entrance of the shelter located in the basement of the First Christian Church. It provides nightly beds to those people on the street who are in the most need. The only problem is that the need is so grand that it is impossible to serve everyone.
It’s difficult to see people huddled together in the entrance - some of them with jobs, one of them is pregnant, many of them struggling with mental health issues - knowing that their chances of getting shelter has been reduced to the dumbest of luck. If they have shelter tonight it will be because they just happened to have been a little higher up on the sign-in sheet.
Inevitably, some people get turned away. That is where the feelings of commiseration and frustration arise; commiseration, because of how miserable it is to spend a night outside, and frustration, because it is obvious that the city can do more, much more, to help the homeless. Looking in doorways and alleys in downtown Olympia, the need for shelter is unequivocal. Unfortunately, our hearts haven’t expanded outward toward the homeless to make their plight a demanding priority.
Marco Rosaire Rossi