|Posted on 7/13/2007 10:21:41 AM|
It was just the other day when I was confronted with the sight of a highly intoxicated gentleman lying on the streets of South Bend. He was passed out and in pretty bad shape. This situation didn't alarm me or cause me to fear since the sight of an individual under the effects of alcohol is one that I sadly have been accustomed to, not only in my role here at the Center, but in my upbringing. I grew up the son of a bartender. My dad, Pops, has worked for the past thirty years in the local gin mills of Levittown, Long Island while my mom worked as a psychiatric attendant at a hospital called South Oaks, not unlike our own Madison Center. Both of my parents have years of experience and insight into the world of alcoholism, as well as an attitude of acceptance and compassion towards others. They never pass judgment.
Though I was not rattled by this gentleman before me on the road, slowly waking up, I was startled by the comments of several passersby who must have known I work at the Center for the Homeless. One of them asked me pointedly, "Is he one of yours?" Now, I don't get easily offended by things, in fact, hardly anything offends me, but when I heard these words I was disappointed. Though I didn't have time to respond, I have an answer now. NO. He is not just one of mine, he is one of OURS. This is a member of our community. It is our duty to take care of the least among us and accept this responsibility. The heartfelt attitude of acceptance is one of my favorite things about living in this Michiana Community; honestly, it's one of the most caring places I have ever been. So I won't judge a city by one ignorant individual, but I wish this person would not have merely associated the man at my feet as someone who might belong to the Center for the Homeless, but as a fellow member of the community, as someone who belongs to South Bend, and who we care for as one of our own.