People often ask me if I have “favorites” among our friends in Milwaukee. I usually say no, but there are some people who I tend to worry about more than others. One of them is a gentle soul named“Alfred”. He is so meek and mild that he gives lambs a bad name. I have known Alfred for five years now, and I can’t help but worry about him. There are times in which some of the people become“grabby” with items and try to take as much as they can. I have seen people take items right out of Alfred’s hands, claiming that they need it more or saw it first. Alfred never resists; he just passively lets go and continues looking for things that he can use. He never takes more than he needs. Sometimes he comes down to the park just to say hi and grab a cup of coffee. He always tells me that he is “blessed,”no matter how cold the temperature or how disheveled his clothing is. He also makes sure to say thank you before leaving the park.
I can’t help but think that one has to be tough to survive on the streets, but somehow Alfred does. He has been the target of bullies and thieves, and last week some young (teens or early twenties) people were making faces at him and saying derogatory remarks to him and the other people we were servicing. A couple of our other park friends wanted to respond with some pretty harsh words, but Alfred simply shook his head and said, “They just don’t know.” Maybe it is this kindness and avoidance of confrontation that have made it possible for Alfred to survive on the streets for so long. Whatever the reason, I am blessed to call him my friend.
May you and yours always be blessed.