It’s sad when a person passes away and hardly anyone notices and when done so, it’s without a name and the simple description as a “transient.” This is my simply attempt to humanize and give dignity to a person that so many loved and respected. Yes, he was homeless…but he was more than “a transient.”
This past week, Quest Church and our ministry, The Bridge Care Center, hosted our annual Thanksgiving Dinner. It’s always good to not just host a one-time meal but to do in the context of ongoing relationship building and advocacy through the BCC made it even more meaningful and special. As I’ve shared before…
Relationship are important:
And when you start dehumanizing the poor, you have no desire to build relationships with them. You have no interest in their stories. You have no interest in relationships. You believe stereotypes that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.
When we’re not interested in building genuine mutual relationships, you rob people of their dignity and they become projects and not people. They become statistics and not reflections of our selves. How can you love and serve the poor if you don’t even know the poor?
When you dehumanize the poor, you have no desire or investment in their redemption.
More than a “transient” person
But on the morning of the Thanksgiving meal, we heard some unfortunate news. Initially, I read it through the local neighborhood blogs and then the local papers:
“A man’s body was found Saturday morning in Ballard, but police said there were no signs of foul play.
The dead man was found in Ballard Commons Park across from the Ballard branch library and two blocks from Northwest Market Street. His age wasn’t immediately known, but police said he was a transient who frequented the park.”
It’s sad when a person passes away and hardly anyone notices and when done so, it’s without a name and the simple description as a “transient.” It’s not a criticism of the paper since they had absolutely no knowledge or relationship of this person. This unnamed and “transient” person was a friend of the Bridge Care Center and although I did not know him very well, I explained to our church that a fellow brother in our community had past away.
In loving memory of Don:
Jill, the director of our advocacy center knew him well and grieved over her passing. Rather than the very brief and impersonal couple sentences in the local paper, I wanted to share her words and description of Don as a way to honor him:
We were blessed to have 75 of our homeless brothers and sisters join us in the Quest basement for a beautiful feast last night. It was great to feel the community and love that was buzzing around the room. I was so thankful to have so many wonderful Quest volunteers who were eager to love and serve.
While yesterday was an opportunity to “rejoice with those who rejoice” it was also a time to “mourn with those who mourn”. I wanted to let you know that I found out yesterday that one of our regular clients of The Bridge passed away yesterday morning. Our friend Don Farquharson was found at Ballard skate park early yesterday morning. It is not a definite as to what the cause of his death was. Byron had been with him during the night and they had been drinking. He was also exposed to the rain that night and it got pretty cold. I had also heard Don had some heart issues, so it really could have been a combination of it all. Whatever the cause, this came as a complete shock to me.
For those of you who remember Don, he was always well put together. He was one of our regular Native American clients. His hair often reminded me of the 80s, with his gray pony tail and buzzed cut up on top. I hardly ever remember his without his glasses and a baseball cap on. He often had a job. He was kind and engaging to his friends and all of the volunteers at the BCC. Don truly will be missed!
While it is never easy to deal with death, I consider it an honor to grieve with the rest of our homeless friends who lost a great friend yesterday. I read of Don’s passing in the Seattle PI, and while I don’t blame them for not knowing him, it’s very hard to read “police said he was a transient who frequented the park.” I am so glad that Don was more than just a transient to us. He was our friend.
Please keep Don’s friends and family (I believe he had 5 kids) in prayer this week!
Rest in peace, Don. I’m sorry that I never got to know you very well.
If you feel compelled to help:
CLOTHING. We need your clothes. Seriously. I want your clothes. I’ll send volunteers to your home to pick them up or you can drop them off at the Bridge or at the Q Cafe. I’ll also take your extra blankets or sleeping bags.
FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTIONS. Yes. Can you consider investing $25, $50, $100, or another amount? You can send in your donations to: Quest Church (c/o Bridge Care Center), 3223 15th Avenue West, Seattle, WA 98119
If you’re a pastor of a local church, I’d like to especially ask you and your congregation to make a donation to The Bridge. 100% of your donation will go directly to fund the three focuses of Advocacy & Referral Services, Computer & Communication, and Clothing Bank.
VOLUNTEER. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get you up and running. Asides from one paid staff, the entire Bridge Care Center is run by volunteers.
But most importantly…
Remember the homeless. “See” them. Acknowledge them. Treat them with dignity. “Homeless” does not equate “less human.”