Second Avenue and Paul

Hey Missy; I asked her this morning…Ya wantta play? She looked at me a bit puzzled and I asked again. “”Ya wantta play under the Second Avenue bridge?” As we drove up Second Avenue I explained to her what I read on the internet this morning. The police are back to what they do best when crime stays inside because of the heat. They pick on and harass homeless people. Last week they locked up 4 from under the Second Avenue bridge for “Loitering!?” I laughed…the cops are good… They can come up with some fantastic reasons to place a homeless person under arrest.

From what I had gathered, there is a small “Tent City” forming under Second Avenue. It really is in a location that is out-of-the-way and not seen by many unless you happen to pull down the Dead End road under the bridge. I hadn’t heard about it so I wanted to check it out.

The complaint had been urinating in public and prostitution. The homeless deny this and so has the church that has been working with them. They feel they should be left alone. I in fact had been called last night from this church to help…I told my husband I don’t think I can.

ME??? Unable to help? I have worked with the homeless for 7 years. I wasn’t even sure why I said what I said. Then I thought about it and tried to explain. Okay…I know the police like to harass the homeless from time to time. But when I heard the homeless denied public bathroom use and prostitution>>> Okay I get that too, but the members from this church was siding with them.

PLEASE! Um is there a bathroom located under the bridge? No! Do the Crack Whores work Third and Second Avenue? Yes! Do I need to name names? Look…The way I do it on the streets is we swing from the same hip. That hip by the way is MY HIP and if I help in any way shape or form I do it with truth! Every single homeless person on the streets that knows me knows I do not lie for you and I do not want you making up a fantastic story for me to swallow! Sorry…not happening. I will not stick my neck out based on a lie. Lets get real…There is prostitution and the homeless do openly use the bathroom. 

On the other hand I do not agree with this Tent City idea. Never have I felt comfortable about the idea some come up with that there should be an area designated solely to the homeless where they can set up tents and nobody can bother them. That to me is insane! Again, let me explain…

Take a group of just 4-5 homeless alcoholics slap full of beer/mouthwash, vodka. In that small number there is very possibly 2 leaders. Over the years without fail I have watched time after time 2 leaders in a group always will end up in a bad situation. They will fight! One guy always has to be the leader… Now a Tent City set-up? I can tell you right now, there will be fighting, stealing, rape, and for sure death! It will NOT work! 

Scattered all over downtown are camps. In those camps you may find 3-4 men. One of those men everyone knows is the leader and they pick personalities that they get along with to share the camp. There is respect this way and if you are asked to leave then you pack up and leave. No fighting! Tent Cities? No way will it work! Sooo how can I help in this situation? I stay out of it. 

We pulled out from under the bridge and drove two blocks to the “Feeding Park.” Another church in the area feed the homeless there every Saturday. Thus…”Feeding Park.” We pulled around the corner and two police officers were standing outside their cars talking in front of the entrance of this park. With a bag of clean white socks in the back seat I asked Missy to pull into the park.

As always, men and women came from every direction wanting a new pair of socks. I asked questions about what was going on under Second Avenue and all the answers were the same. The police were picking on them again. I motioned my head in the direction of the two officers at the entrance and asked why they were there. Each one had the same answer…”Harassing us!” After hugs and smiles we suggested they lay low and it will stop. It is true… it will stop. The police will get tired of it, back off and go onto something else. 

Spotting Paul sitting against the wall of the car wash we pulled in, got out of the car and sat down next to him. Paul is the gentleman in the pictures I posted. 

Sitting there talking to him I felt at home. This is what I do, not fight for a Tent City…

We have known Paul about 4 years. BAD alcoholic! I told him today that I was surprised that he is still alive. He laughed and said he hated to admit it but several others mentioned that same thing to him many times. While we were sitting there a guy rode up on a bike and handed Paul 3 dollars. Breakfast in a can was on my sweet friends mind… however he indulged us and seemed to enjoy the company and laughs.

Paul is 49 and sleeps wherever. He stays alone most of the time and really the only friend we know he will associate with on the streets is David. Our man David spends a lot of time in jail for public intoxication so Paul stays alone much of the time.

Paul, I asked him… “Do you believe in Jesus?” His answer was a bit lengthy but he most definitely believes in Jesus. Every morning he said… when he wakes up…He thanks the Lord. He said Life is the greatest gift God has given to us. He also went on to say that there have been times he has wanted to end his life. But he said that God shows him, if life is so bad that you want to die…it can only get better from here! I let out a sigh from deep inside that I know only God heard and I at that second knew I was blessed to have Paul as my friend! This is what I do…it is where I belong. At the back of a gas station in downtown Columbus Georgia bumping knees with Paul as we sat and talked about hopes and dreams.

Before we left I bent down and wrapped my arms around Pauls tiny frame. His clothes were wet from days of sweat. Yet I felt it was important to hug him with all I had. Smell, sweat, filth…I did not care. Paul needed to know I touched him after we drove away. I looked back and told him one more time that I loved him. He yelled back, “I feel the same way…” 

Who can you hug today? Who needs to hear you tell the whole world of your love for them? Go find a Paul…


3 Responses to “Second Avenue and Paul”

  1. I agree, Jaye. The truth is always better than supporting a lie. You know the truth, and the other church people either know or are burying their heads in the sand and agreeing with a lie. Keep doing what you’re doing!

  2. That’s one of the things I love about you and Missy, Y’all seem to stand for what’s right even if it means standing alone. Y’all certainly have mine and Ray’s support. Anything we can do to help, just let us know.
    I love your style of writing.

  3. Keep up the awesome ministry you got going on.

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