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Days 19 & 20: Shelter

Monday and Tuesday were slow delivery days. I made over $35 each day in tips/mileage. I had a good time with the people I work with. I try to work hard. I try to appreciate hard work. It pays off in spades. OK, not spades. Money and stories.

It was my first or second delivery Monday night. The receipt said 2301 S 15th St. I found the spot and saw what looked like a college dorm. I readied my clipboard with the purple-sparkle hairpin.

I got out of the car and moved toward the front lawn. That’s when I saw the crucifix on the outside wall. There was stained glass. The construction was a bit older. Lawn ornaments of the catholic variety smiled at and/or blessed me from the stoop.

I rang the doorbell. No answer.

I waited. I looked through the side window. There was no one there. I knocked. What was this place? A nunnery. I was delivering pizza to a nunnery.

Or maybe it was a church office?

I looked to my right. The letters “WS PAPER” reflected what little light they could back at me from the glow of an orange halogen on the side of the building.

I called the store. I told my coworker about my predicament. I asked for the manager on duty. 

I saw movement through the stained glass.

“Nevermind, Coworker, I got this,” I said. I knocked again.

The door was pushed open by a twenty-something woman with a super-cute, chubby little baby.

“I’m so sorry, how long were you standing there?” she asked. She stepped inside and held the door. I stepped in. I assured her it was no more than two or three minutes.

“Sorry about that,” she continued. She grabbed a box of nursing pads off of a table. “We were all downstairs.”

Several more women came into view, each with a beautiful baby on one hip.

“It’s no problem. What is this place?” I asked.

“This is the Bethlehem House. It’s kind of a shelter for pregnant women.”

My mind raced. I was taking in everything I could, but it was difficult. Who were these people? Bethlehem House? Why haven’t I heard of them before?

The purchaser signed my receipt and I left.

The place consumed my thoughts for the rest of the night. It still smolders today. I wanted to volunteer. I wanted to tell my wife. Maybe she could get the young women from church involved to help out. I didn’t know anything about them except that they were a shelter for expecting mothers. Yet I felt so motivated to help!

They take applications and support expecting, homeless mothers in getting a job. They get them a GED. They help with their deliveries and the care of their new child. They are 100% community-funded and faith-based.



Talk about helping people reclaim their freedom. Single, homeless mothers are not free.

I’ve mentioned this before: I can’t wait to give. We tithe and pay a fast offering, and that helps many, many people, but I can’t wait to reach out to even MORE people. To shelter the cold. Feed the hungry. Lend a hand, you know?

There was another gal I met tonight (Tuesday). I pulled up to the steep steps of a two-story duplex. My target was the upper porch. At least I hoped it was. I knocked.

“Hi!” a young woman said as she opened the door. Dogs barked in the background.

The tone of the greeting – or whether there is one – lets me know whether I found the right door. Mission accomplished.

“Hi there!” I responded, handing over the clipboard. “Go ahead and fill that out for me and I’ll get out your food here…”

I opened the bag and removed the boxes. They were nice and warm. She had gotten dessert, too. Smelled delicious.

“Do you happen to have your ID or the card you paid with, by the way?” I asked.

“Uh,” the young woman said, taking pause. “Actually, my name is Sharon. My sister is the one who paid for it,” she explained, handing me the clipboard with the signed receipt. (I changed her name here.) “She bought this for me because I just got divorced. Do you need me to go get her?”

I started shaking my head before she finished.

“I trust you. Don’t sweat it,” I said as I handed over the boxes. I took her copy of the receipt off my clipboard and put it on top.

“Enjoy those pizzas way more than you enjoyed your divorce,” I said, accentuating ‘way’ and ‘more’ with two flicks of my pen.

She laughed. “I will. Have a good night.”

I returned the well-wishing and stepped off the porch. She gave me a $5 tip.

Later on I delivered to the Lydia house. They are a homeless shelter for men women and children. They are part of the Open Door Mission and provide a great service to hundreds of otherwise cold and hungry and homeless folks.

Turns out the average age of a homeless person is 9 years old.

My target tonight was Steve. I pulled up to the door, ran up the handicapped ramp – because I’m handicapped, just ask my brother – and pressed the camera doorbell button. LEDs lit my face. I lowered it to show the logo on my cap. The door clicked.

First thing I see is a metal detector. I know this won’t be pretty. I step through. Sirens go off both in the vestibule and in the office behind a plate glass window. I look through it to see a man with a beard manning the station.

“Oh, pizza! Come on through, come on through!”

Rock on. No frisking. Pizza is power. I stepped through the door and let them know I was looking for Steve.

They paged Steve. Several men proceeded to come out to the receiving area. One told me Steve was outside. I went outside. No Steve. Back through the metal detector. Sirens wail, but it’s cool, because I have pizza and I’m with Steve.

The next guy goes off to find Steve in the “ten man”, whatever that is. Another guy recommends a different place. Third was the charm.

“Steve is right there!” the man said, pointing down a hallway in the opposite direction from the “ten man.”

Steve came around the corner. He apologized for making me wait. Out came the cash, I handed over the pizza and I was away.

This concept of shelter was thick throughout the last two days. People that have enough should give to people who need. People who have needs should humble themselves enough to ask for help, or at least to receive what is offered. When done right, both parties change.

Add another reason to my list of things to throw money at: providing shelter. I want to provide shelter. I want to keep my family safe and help keep others safe one dollar, one pizza, one day at a time. I want to do what I can when I can.

“So how might we ‘do what we can?’

“For one thing, we can, as King Benjamin taught, cease withholding our means because we see the poor as having brought their misery upon themselves. Perhaps some have created their own difficulties, but don’t the rest of us do exactly the same thing? Isn’t that why this compassionate ruler asks, ‘Are we not all beggars?’11 Don’t we all cry out for help and hope and answers to prayers? Don’t we all beg for forgiveness for mistakes we have made and troubles we have caused? Don’t we all implore that grace will compensate for our weaknesses, that mercy will triumph over justice at least in our case? Little wonder that King Benjamin says we obtain a remission of our sins by pleading to God, who compassionately responds, but we retain a remission of our sins by compassionately responding to the poor who plead to us.12

-Jeffrey R. Holland




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