Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Chicago: Day Sixteen: I Walked

I got home at 3:00 A.M. after working out reach. It was not a very busy night but Doug and I got to process my training. I slept and then got up at 8:30. I was out the door at 9:00. I was walking to the Center On Halsted.

I first stopped at the Lakeview Pantry. The lady I talked to told me that the pantry has had a 15% increase in cases in the past year. They are a local food pantry for a large area. They are now handing out over one million pounds of food a year. They have been around for 40 years. They have many programs. The pantry is the most visible. However, they also have home delivery of food, clothing, and case management. They also serve as a site for Heartland Health Outreach. This is an impressive local agency and I was glad to have had the opportunity to talk with them.

I then walk over to The Center on Halsted. This is a huge place. It is a three story, 55,000 foot building. That does not include the whole food store that rents from the Center. This is the largest GLBTQ center in the Midwest. It has multiple programs. These include a computer room, art galleries, a gym, a café, recreation rooms and programs, a roof top garden, counseling services and youth services. There are activities for folks who want to be able to socialize without using alcohol. There is theater. Many of the programs here are connected to outside institutions. That includes outside theater groups.

The place is friendly. I am greeted by many proud staff members including the director of recreational services. I notice that the Adler School of Professional Psychology has an office in the building. That is the school I went to.

I view the galleries, the roof top garden and the café. From the garden you can look down Halsted Street and see downtown Chicago. It is a great view. I wonder what potential there may be for Emmaus and the Center to work together to help the local youth. It may not be possible at all but dialogue is important.

Next I walk over to the Salvation Army Officer College. This is an impressive campus. The main building looks like something from 1910. I speak briefly to the reception and am given a number to call. I know Emmaus is working with the Army. I know the Army is struggling to find a way to be relevant and authentic in the neighborhood.

Next I walk over to Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church. It is a large building with connecting school buildings. The church is closed but I am greeted by the administrator. He speaks briefly of the church and invites me to a service.

Finally I walk, and walk to Lincoln Park Zoo. I was a docent at this zoo in the 80’s. I love this place. It is one of the few free zoos left in the country. When I was a kid it was a horrible menagerie of animals. Lots of animals packed next to one another.
The animals were often neurotic or lethargic. By the time I became a docent that had change. They had moved to becoming a zoological park with an emphasis on fewer types of animals and more natural habitats. I was there when they opened the penguin house, the large mammal habitat, the great ape house, the polar bear habitat and the reptile house. That emphasis has not changed. The new buildings are incredible.

Finally I walk to the “L”. I have lunch at a West African restaurant. I then meet with Deacon John Green, the founder of Emmaus Ministries. We talk about my experience and about Emmaus. I then meet him in his office and do a video interview.

It is finally 4:00 PM and time to begin my shift at the Ministry Center.

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