The tree of life

We are the “supply line” to troops battling on the front lines. We like to visit with our partner agencies to see first hand the struggles they contend with every day. Yesterday, we went to the Room In The Inn, a program that serves chronically homeless people. It was inspiring, to say the least.

Room In The Inn has multiple programs serving the homeless, including overnight lodging at area churches, drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs, a new transitional living facility currently under construction and a day area where the homeless can just relax, watch television or use a computer.

But we were blown away by the art program. Some would say pain fuels art. It certainly does at Room In The Inn. The walls of the building are studded with unspeakably beautiful art. The art room holds pottery and sculpture. The Room In The Inn holds an annual art show and supplements its budget with the proceeds.

Now, to the Tree of Life. It is a collection of leaves, painted with the names of those homeless people whose pain has now been ended by death.

Karen Stevens, the special projects coordinator at the Inn, was telling us about a woman who just got added to the tree. She had been homeless for 20 years. Someone found her lifeless body under a trestle not 100 feet from the Inn. Betsy asked if she died from the cold. No, Karen said, the harshness of her life finally caught up with her.

Most people tend to look away when confronted with a homeless person. But this visit was a revelation to me. Many of them greeted us as if we’d just stopped by for a cup of coffee. One gentleman sitting in the TV room said hello in an impeccably British accent. But, clearly, he was not British. How oddly delightful.

The tree of life

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