Work boots – hand-out or hand-up?

Our PACT meeting yesterday took an interesting turn! 

Every month we host* the PACT (Parole/Probation and Community Team) meeting. 40+ parolees/probationers and 20+ providers, churches, non profits and individuals have breakfast together.
For the Ex-offenders this is a mandatory meeting. For the rest it is voluntary. They came to ‘welcome home’ the men and women and offer their services for successful reentry.

We opened the Bus Boutique and several people took the clothing they needed. A young man was looking for a pair of work boots because he had an opportunity to work.

One of the community members overheard the conversation and said: “let’s go and get you some boots” and 3 of them went to the store to buy a pair of boots so this young man can go to work.

I was trying to sort through it. If you know me you know that I will seldom do hand-outs and yet, it felt right at that moment. We can’t say we want to help and not support him to take the opportunity of a job.

A pair of boots can make all the difference for this young man and it feels like we did what Jesus commanded us when He talked about giving a cup of cold water, clothing the naked and feeding the hungry.
But there has to be a balance because the Bible also talks about people needing to work for their pay.

We believe that “Everyone no matter how rich has a need. Everyone no matter how poor has a gift and that is why we build and celebrate community.” so men, if you have boots you don’t wear, pants that don’t fit, and shirts that are out of fashion… bring them to the Bus Boutique because that might be the only thing that stands in the way of an ex-offender making it.

And for the young man… I look forward to seeing him again and asking him to give back to the community (he might clean some gutters, paint a wall, or give a shirt to someone in need). I hope that this encounter will bless him and he will see that there is hope that there are people who care, that there is a God who is big enough for these divine appointments.

* Gateway Community Church has been providing breakfast for these meetings for over 2 years now! Special thanks to them, Elden, Fred, Jim and the other volunteers.

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