What have I let myself in for?
I had a chance meeting two weekends ago, at Call to Action http://www.cta-usa.org/.
A woman named Brenda Myers-Powell--this is her real name because I bet she wants the publicity--is looking for space in which to help women in prostitution find their way out. Given the situation with Priscilla and my feeling that sooner or later she'll be back, I thought we should talk.
Brenda and her friend and business partner, Stephanie, met with me on Sunday. The house was still under construction in the interior design project, so we went around the corner to El Tio and sat down over a meal. We were discussing the possibility of using my house as a place to do this work.
At first we talked about doing something residential. "How do you feel about deadbolts on your bedroom door?" Stephanie asked me. Not good.
The conversation quickly shifted to a drop-in kind of setting. We talked about 12 hours a week, always two people in charge on the premises from a pool of Brenda, Stephanie and their husbands. "We will treat your home like it was our home, and we will treat you like our sister because you are our sister in Christ," they pledged.
But I'm still scared. I called my craziest friend, who told me about the knife fights she used to break up when her drop in center for young people, including gang bangers, was located next to Sarah's Circle, a drop-in center for homeless women, including women in prostitution. "Their pimps will be watching 24/7," she pointed out. I already have that problem thanks to Yup-yup, Priscilla's (I hope) former pimp. I'm very afraid of it getting worse.
I'm taking this week to discern the idea. Not just consider its wisdom but whether it's the kind of folly God calls you to or just straight-out folly, period.
One point that came to me quickly is that my house is my home, not a program. I think Brenda and Stephanie and I have yet to see whether a Catholic Workerish vision of hospitality and a model of a social-service style program are compatible. A friend has already pointed out to me that I've got some good things going with the neighbors already and maybe it's worth it to let them grow. (I'll just add that I'm well aware this idea won't be a big hit with the neighbors and could strain relations with people I want as allies.)
Another feeler that may yet be explored is whether the space at Su Casa vacated by Genesis House might be a possibility. Right now Brenda and Stephanie can't afford rent, but Genesis House wasn't paying the rent they were supposed to be paying, so what if we all went in with expectations that the new occupants wouldn't pay rent now but might in the future? Or that the new program would repair and maintain the space that Genesis House trashed?
I have yet to put out a feeler to Su Casa about this because they were burned badly by Genesis House and likely don't want to even think about anything with any connection to them. (Brenda and Stephanie want to do something independent of Genesis House but the mere fact they "graduated" from the program back in the day might be a source of tension with Su Casa right now, I don't know.)
Anyway, for you friends and readers who might have responses to this or want to offer your thoughts as I take my week of discernment about what's next, I welcome your comments. Thanks.
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