My Day with the Relief Bus

I’m taking a break from my normal blog to highlight a non-profit that I believe in, New York City Relief. They’re doing really great work with the homeless in New York and New Jersey.

NYC Relief is super effective in training and deploying volunteers. I just finished my fifth trip with them, and each experience has been worthwhile and fulfilling. Getting right into the mix to hear these people’s stories, lending a hand, and just showing some kindness has taught me a lot about the common needs we all have.

Handing out socks, hygiene kits, and offering prayer

Handing out socks, hygiene kits, and offering prayer

Making new friends - you definitely get back more than you give.

Making new friends - you definitely get back more than you give.

David is a Bahamian immigrant who works a security job, but arthritis in his ankle forces him to use crutches and he can no longer walk his rounds. He was thankful to get soup and bread to help cut costs so he can pay his (subsidized) rent. And he was grateful to receive prayer for his ankle, but mostly he was glad to just be able to tell his story to someone who was willing to connect with him and appreciate him.

Maria was one of several mothers who come to get bread, socks, and anything else we have to help her family. When I asked her if she would like us to pray for anything, it was all about the needs of others - not for herself. These women are doing their best to hold their families together against tough odds, and I have huge respect for them.

Shiv struggles with alcoholism. He hates it and wants to quit, but hasn’t beaten it yet. He’s currently living on the street because he’s had bad experiences in shelters. He has a family in LA that cares and prays for him. He really hopes things can turn around. The Relief Bus is able to direct him a number of services for housing healthcare, work, and addiction treatment.

It’s far too convenient for me to lump people into a category like “homeless,” especially in New York. But I try to remember that we’re all people, and we all need dignity and respect. Each one has a story, and very few chose the circumstances that landed them in their situations.

I count it a privilege to be used by God to share his love and care for each of the people He loves so much.

Here’s their home page
Here’s how to support them

If you live in the greater NYC area, I highly recommend volunteering on the Relief Bus sometime soon. It’s well run, safe, and the experience will give you a new perspective on life.