Friday, February 06, 2009

PACEM 2009

This year our church hosted the PACEM men again. We made sure they had warm places to sleep, hot showers, clean laundry and good hot food. We also talked and played games with them. We enjoyed it.

My participation this year was a bit different than in prior years. I'd always helped cook dinner a couple of nights and I always did a huge amount of laundry, but this year I helped to manage the evenings. The kids enjoyed being with the men so much that on the nights that I said they could not come with me, they got upset. In the end we were there ten of the fourteen nights! It was exhausting, but so rewarding.

The more we were there, the more the men got to know us and trust us, and realize that we were there to help them and not to judge them.

Tonight there was an art show at one of the UVA dining halls. The artist, UVA student James Dean Erickson, had been painting and drawing the homeless for years and his work culminated in tonight's show. His work is amazing. He captured these men as we know them. The show was not widely publicized, but when we heard about it from one of the men we knew we had to go. Kathy (my co-evening manager), the kids and I went to the dining hall and were greeted by, not only our friend James a.k.a. Mountain Man, but also bigger than life portraits of some of our other PACEM friends.

This is the artist in grey. The portrait behind him is of our late PACEM friend Tommy Parker. Tommy was a regular not only at PACEM but at our church on Sunday mornings. He frequented one our Bible Study classes and became dear to many of us. He died last spring.

Here's James...he reminds me a lot of Tommy. Perhaps it's because he's so friendly. He endeared himself to us and to the kids immediately. On the first night he asked Will to draw a picture for his daughter. By the second night he knew Morgan would get him his milk whenever he needed it. His portrait, like the others, is painted on cardboard pieces.

James a.k.a. Mountain Man


Kathy and James in front of Tommy's portrait


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