Who Brung You to the Dance

There's an expression used here in the South: "don't forget who brung you to the dance*." It's an adminition to not overlook whoever sponsored you for the event that you're participating in. It's usually used in the context of politics or sports, but I think it fits in this case. I'd been in such a swirl of blogging, e-mails, meetings and interviews** that I'd forgotten I'd promised to bring them as much publicity as possible.

The IHN, of which the Guilford division is but one chapter, or "network", partners with houses of worship in whatever community they're in to provide clean, safe temporary shelter for homeless families. It only serves families, which means that the services are a cut above other programs that also serve single homeless people, since kids' needs are also seen to. We spend the days at the local IHN headquarters (the "Day Center" I've mentioned in previous posts) pursuing job leads and housing arrangements and working with an in-house social worker to coordinate community and governmental resources geared to our situation. We spend nights at local host churches and other houses of worship on a rotating weekly schedule. the IHN volunteers who serve at the churches are specially trained to provide basic services for the homeless, but are not counselors, social workers, ATM machines, or servants. They give of this time of their own free will and the goodness of their hearts, and are the axles that turn the wheels of the program. High Point, which is Guilford County's other city (3), runs its own IHN network.

The entire setup is faith-based, which got me to thinking: having grown up as (nominally) a Christian, I'm somewhat familiar with what the Judeo-Christian response to the homelessness problem is supposed to be, but I wonder how other faiths handle it? What does Islam teach about how to treat the homeless, for example? Or other faiths? I'll bet that even though the details are different, the basic precepts are the same.

Thinking about how the IHN networks were set up around here got me to thinking about how each network goes about setting up and functioning in such diverse cities. Taking the thought further, I wondered whether networks similar to IHN existed in other countries, and how those would be set up. Then I remembered all my new readers in Italy.

Can you imagine the network the Vatican would have in place, if it wanted? The mind boggles.

*I know, I know, "brung" is not the past tense of "to bring". It's a Southern thing...

**The latest was with Joel Fraim, with the national offices of the Interfaith Hospitality Network, who wants to talk with me for the organization's newsletter.

(3) Guilford County is unusual in North Carolina in that it is the only one with two recognized major metropolitan areas. Greensboro, High Point and Winston-Salem, which is in neighboring Forsyth County, together make up what is known as the Piedmont Triad.

Hello Michael, I'm a Peruvian reading your blog from Japan. Go figure!

I was hooked from the first lines, so I spent my last three hours catching up with all your entries. Thanks for writing and sharing!

My country is a poor one, with more than 50% of the people living bellow the poverty line, so I may say poverty is a real BIG problem there. Unfortunately it is SO common, that you get accustomed to it. You get accustomed to it and quickly forget that all these people are just in front of your nose. People asking for some coins on every corner, people selling candies in all the buses, kids sleeping on the streets, girls prostituting themselves...

I know you’re not in any of these groups, but suddenly I’ve realized (I should have long time ago) that they’re all human beings, with a history on their shoulders, and not just part of the scenery.*

What I meant to say is, thanks for sharing your experience with us. You’ve opened my eyes and, I’m sure, many more eyes too.

Keep fighting!

* Sorry my poor English...
Hey Mike,
I'm a Turkish reading your blog from Turkey.

May God help you with the situation you're going thru, and I really think you're doing a good work, because we people who have a "house" to live in sometimes forget what we have in hand.

Yes, you're right, in every religion it should be the same but in Islam it's a little bit more complicated. Islam tells people to share what we have in hand -if you have two eggs you may (and must) share it with somebody doesn't have.
A saying of Prophet Mohammad is : "A person does not belong to us who sleeps stomach filled while his neighbour sleeps stomach empty."
I believe same or slightly different rules exist in christianity as well.. and Moses was told to give for the poor in the 10 commandment as i remember..

Best regards from Turkey, hope everything works good for you and your family.
(Sorry for my poor English)
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