When you work Downtown, when you're here day after day, you deaden a bit to some of the things you see. A couple huddled in a doorway on a cold November morning, a worn-out blanket barely covering them; cops on bikes pulling a homeless man up off of the sidewalk, a puddle of vomit at his feet; an elderly gentleman in suit and tie, stalking down the street and shouting curses at the demons leaking from his head; none of these things provoke a second glance after a while. There's a lot of suffering here and very little that one person can do. A dollar here, a dollar there, maybe that helps a bit, but the overall feeling is one of powerlessness, and slowly you become hardened to it.
Today, though, I noticed a sign in the window of Lindy's Diner, and that numbness thawed just a little bit. It read, “Anyone in need of a free Thanksgiving Dinner, come join us Thanksgiving Day, 11:00-2:00.”
A dollar here, a dollar there, maybe that helps a bit, but the overall feeling is one of powerlessness, and slowly you become hardened to it.
No, Lindy's isn't going to solve the problems of homelessness and hunger. And one single meal on one single day isn't "enough." But it is something, a reminder that hardness isn't the answer, that compassion is. And that even if we can never do enough, we can, and should, still try.
How to Help
There are many organizations that provide aid to the homeless and hungry. Here are a few of our favorites to help you get started.
Roadrunner Food Bank accepts donations of non-perishable foods at their main branch (5840 Office NE) and at drop-off locations all across Albuquerque. Check rrfb.org for more information.
You can donate money to ABQ Rescue Mission via their website at abqrescue.org. Funds “go to work immediately providing meals, shelter, medical care and long-term recovery for adults.”
St. Martin’s Hospitality Center assists an average of 350 people per day at their Day Shelter. You can donate money or sign up to volunteer at smhc-nm.org. St. Martin’s also operates a coffee shop at 700 Second Street NW which serves as a work training site for people attempting to enter the workforce from a background of poverty and homelessness. Proceeds also go to support the Hospitality Center and other programs.
The Barrett Foundation assists homeless women and children with transitioning off the street and into housing and vocational training programs. They offer many ways to donate. For more info, check their website at barrettfoundation.org.