The Rev. Casey dunsworth

serves as Associate Campus Pastor to the Belfry, the Lutheran-Episcopal Campus Ministry to UC Davis

and as Program Director for LEVN, the Lutheran Episcopal Volunteer Network.

"Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary, use words." -- St. Francis of Assisi

Today was pretty much the same as every day at the thrift store. But nearly first thing this morning, one of the homeless regulars, Luis, came by. He'd come off pretty bad in some sort of fight or accident, and wasn't looking good at all. It had probably been days since the event, because he was looking about the worst-for-wear I've ever seen him, or anyone, for that matter. Robert opened up our usually private bathroom and he and Anthony grabbed Luis a whole new set of clothes off the racks and the shelves in the back. [We keep essentials like socks, underwear, t shirts, and jackets that aren't great enough quality to sell but would be great for someone like Luis on a shelf in the back, for occasions such as this; they happen all too frequently.] Luis spent probably thirty minutes in our little bathroom, giving himself what Robert called a "birdbath" in our little sink, and cleaning up his still-bloody face to the best of his ability. He needed help getting dressed in his new clothes. and I think he probably had broken ribs. After all that, we sent him on his merry way, to fend for himself for another day.

Homelessness prevention and rehabilitation is not what our organization does, technically, but it's a bit of what we do in the stores. The homeless guys in the area know that they can come to us if they need a pair of socks, or a jacket, or even shoes, when we have them in the right size. This morning was probably the first time in a long time that five people smiled at Luis and helped him, rather than shaking their heads or recoiling at his requests for help.

There are days where I come home from the store with sore feet and legs, headaches, or just general exhaustion from the bustle or the boringness (depending on the day and the store). I wake up the next day nearly incredulous that I have to get up and do it again. I worry that my exhaustion will make me late, and I'll get in trouble with whoever's managing that day. But they're really all wonderful people. And never will I wake up feeling as badly as Luis felt this morning, if Luis slept at all last night.

These are the reasons that I work at the store, even though sometimes it feels like a waste of my brain and my college degree. This is an organization I stand behind, and these are the day-to-day actions of people who care about the people with whom they share this world. Yeah, people donate gross stuff sometimes. And some customers are rude. And some homeless people are less polite and less grateful than Luis was this morning.

I'm not sure if anyone with whom I work is particularly religious. We never talk about that, though they know what I study and what I plan to do. But they're all living the Gospel every day, whether they recognize it or not.

Ah, sustainability. And beer. Duh.