A Humbling Experience

by Charlie Theuma, JOIN Board Member

My son Brian (13) and I spent Monday night until 10:30 p.m. going around town with Quinn and seeing what it was like dealing with the homeless in Portland.

Quinn is an amazing individual who shows the utmost respect to people, has a sincere interest in people’s problems and is always searching for a solution to whatever challenge is faced.

It was humbling to see what a little effort and time can produce. Both Brian and I see the world just a little differently.

We went to so many places downtown, too many to mention. The van was equipped with blankets, tarps and a few sleeping bags as an opening to conversation.

We visited a group of homeless people who had camped out in a specific block and had to inform them that the Police would be doing a sweep in the morning and they had to find another place to call home. Instead of leaving it at that, Quinn inquired as to where they planned on going, if they needed anything and arranged to offer transportation assistance in the morning so that the challenge wouldn’t be so difficult. What Quinn received in return was respect and a big thank you.

Brian and I helped two 15 year old kids on the street and provided them with sleeping bags, blankets and a few tarps. Almost broke my heart seeing them trying to sleep in the doorway of a business building knowing that they were only 2 years older than my son.

For all the times that life seems tough, for the variety of requests we get asked as a Board member, I would like to tell you that it is worth every ounce of energy we give and every dollar we provide.

My wife Amy helped organize an event at US Bank that provided us with about 4,000 pairs of socks. Those socks allowed the staff to help our homeless friends for almost a year. It was a simple request of employees to bring new socks with them to a scheduled event that US Bank was executing and telling employees a little bit about JOIN.

Never did I think that basic things like a blanket, socks or tarps can make the difference in a life. Trust me it does.

What I will take away from that evening is that people are nice people. Not once did we encounter anyone who was rude or unappreciative. The homeless have their challenges, but don’t use that as an excuse, they just try to survive the best way they can and appreciate any help along the way.

Thanksgiving and Christmas is a time where people realize that it’s the giving time. My son and I saw first hand what blankets, socks, sleeping bags, books and tarps can do to change someone’s life.
Whether we are organizing a giving page, talking to friends for financial support or asking friends to look in their closets for blankets or books, it all does wonders to many who we never get to know.

Thanks for allowing me a few moments to share.