I saw Manny today…

As I was driving home today I saw Manny, as I often do, cleaning up the street and sidewalk in Apponaug, where he lives at House Of Hope.

Manny is known as the ‘Mayor of Apponaug’ because he is such a friendly and constant presence and talks to everyone while he is perpetually cleaning up and keeping busy.

This has not always been Manny’s reality. Years ago, he had a good job, but was in an accident and seriously hurt. He became addicted to pain killers, but then lost his job and health insurance, and turned to heroin–it was cheaper. He lost his home as well, and for years he travelled the streets of Rhode Island as one of those nameless many homeless people.

One cold evening Manny and a friend took shelter in a garbage dumpster. Before they could exit in the morning, a garbage truck came by and crushed them nearly to death.

Manny is still healing, and he is fortunate to live at House of Hope, run by Jean Johnson and her wonderful crew. Manny has turned his story into one of hope, so it’s always good to see Manny.

But for too many Rhode Islanders, the story doesn’t end like this. 1 in 4 children here and across the US are hungry. Unemployment in the minority communities is far higher than the average–30%+ in some places in Providence. We have the highest rate of incarceration (and especially of minority men) in the world, a minimum wage that is not liveable for anyone in any state, let alone here in RI. Public schools are struggling, and many many children do not even have a book in their home. Housing is unaffordable and unavailable for many.

I believe God is calling us as a beloved community to look around us, and to figure out how we can call out injustice and poverty and work to find solutions so that all the stories in Rhode Island can be beacons of hope to the world, just like Manny is for me.

Are you up for it, Central Congregational Church?


Posted in Mission Thoughts.