A homeless outreach based at Rochester’s St. Mary Church seeks out homeless people and offers them food, hygiene kits and a hotel room for the night if they agree to meet with a social worker in the morning. On June 25, I was assigned to takes pictures of the outreach, accompanying volunteers from St. Joseph’s in Penfield.
I got there at 9 p.m. but learned that the group doesn’t start until 10 p.m. and wouldn’t finish until 1:30 a.m. I was frustrated because I didn’t want to wait and wasn’t expecting to be out so late. As they explained what they do and how they do it, I began to get nervous and afraid. I soon realized how dark the shooting conditions were going to be and I was doubtful that I was even going to get any pictures. Then it started to rain. I had no jacket or umbrella.
I was told once that we have to leave our comfort zones in order to recognize God’s presence. He’s everywhere and always provides so we can do his work. And provide he did!
One of the social workers gave me his umbrella so I could keep my camera dry as we encountered our first homeless person huddled under a bridge. With the help of a police officer’s spotlight, I was able to get a useable picture early on in the night. It’s a powerful image that sums up what the entire night was like. From then on, my attitude changed. I stopped worrying about shooting and focused on the gift of the experience that I was given. By the end of the night, although soaking wet and filthy, I didn’t want to stop. The wonderful people I met made it a truly life-changing experience that I am thankful for.