Last month Ken Davis and I were invited to speak to the Life Teen Groups at St. John Neumann Parish in Strongsville and St. Barnabas Parish in Northfield. Both groups were having “cardboard campouts” and were interested in Ken’s experience living on Cleveland’s streets and how he came to work at the West Side Catholic Center. When I say Ken and I were invited I am overstating it a bit. I basically give a brief overview of the WSCC, introduce Ken and serve as his driver for these speaking engagements. Ken is the real star of these events.
We began the evening at St. John and were very excited as we pulled in the parking lot and saw several cardboard creations that would serve as the teens’ sleeping quarters for the night. Ken loves to share the story of one year at a cardboard campout a parent had put much time and effort into her daughter’s cardboard box. It was decorated, had lighting and carpeting. Ken said it was more like a condo and not a cardboard box. Ken also shares that he spoke with the mother and reminded her about the point of the campout. All the amenities were quickly removed!
These boxes were all fairly basic with a few tarps and sleeping bags. No condos here. The night was going to be chilly and dry. Frankly, Ken and I always say a prayer on our way to these campouts asking for rain. Ken believes it makes the sleep out more realistic to what folks on the streets often experience.
Ken spoke to the group and answered many questions. I have heard Ken’s story many times and never tire of hearing it. One of my favorite parts of his message is when he asks the teens how many of them hugged their mom and dad today. Not everyone raises their hand. His point is that no matter how old we are we can always hug our parents and should be grateful for their love and support.
We then headed across Route 82 and arrived at St. Barnabas at 8:30pm. There was still daylight as we pulled up and saw another wonderful collection of cardboard boxes. As Ken spoke with this group he fondly recalled that several years ago when he was last at St. Barnabas it had rained all day and the boxes were sitting in mud. No mud this year. Again, Ken shared his story of time on the streets, his resilience and recovery. As Ken tells everyone “It’s all good!” Yes, it is and we are so blessed that he is a part of the WSCC.
We are so grateful for these young people who stand in solidarity with the poor and homeless. They work hard to understand the issues faced by the marginalized in our community. I see them truly living their faith. Through their collections of dollars, diapers, socks and sweatshirts they are a great support to the WSCC.
Remember – Saturday, May 30, - 10th Annual 5k Run/1 Mile Walk and Pancake Breakfast in historic Ohio City. The race starts at 9:00am. This family friendly event is a fun morning and a way to see first-hand the amazing work done at the West Side Catholic Center and there will be PANCAKES provided by the good folks from Hyland. Special t-shirt designed by GV ART + DESIGN to all participants. Register online or the morning of the race. Hope to see you there.
As always, thank you for reading,