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A Coat, A Hat, And A Hug...

I was walking along Elm Street in Manchester when I saw a homeless woman leaning on a lamp post. I took the time to engage in conversation with her, which I frequently do with the homeless. I noticed that she had sores all over her face and hands and, she had a terrible cough. She had a nervous twitch about her and, she couldn't stay still, the signs of substance abuse, probably methamphetamine. As she swayed back and forth she started telling me her story. She told me that where she had been staying had a bedbug infestation, so she left. She got a tent and was living by herself in the freezing cold somewhere in the city. I told her to follow me to my car which she did. It just so happened that I had some 'goodies' for her; a coat, a knitted hat, warm gloves, and a hygiene kit. She hugged me and said, 'thank you.' Hugging anyone in these days of pandemic especially a stranger with a cough is a dangerous exercise. She needed it so, I hugged her back. Are there not times when we all need that caring symbol of love? It probably meant more to her than all of the material goods she received from me. Engaging a homeless person in conversation can be life-changing. It can come with a jolt of reality, spirituality and, hopefully empathy- something that is so desperately needed in today's world. Please care! Merle Burke, President & Founder Shepherd's Way

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