I remember the day last spring when the security curtain that rolls down over the Day Center vestibule's windows stopped working and was deemed beyond repair. Since then, the view facing west has been blocked by metal slats.
In my years of cleaning our entry at the end of the day, I've tooth-brushed grime from the threshold, vacuumed nail pairings from under the baseboard heater and temporarily chased germs from every surface touched by human hands.
But yesterday, I found myself cleaning that blank window for the first time.
It's not that the glass was dirty. Someone on another day must swab it from time to time. But I realized I had started seeing a wall instead of a window.
Cleaning glass no one can see through—now there's an inescapable metaphor for what we do here.
Since the Day Center opened in March, 1997, it has provided the same basic services to people experiencing poverty and disruption in their lives: laundry, showers, storage, medical, newspaper, phone and mail, free coffee, respite from the heat, cold and insecurity of the streets. Five days a week, about 17,000 visits a year.
But we also dispense the invisible and uncountable. We maintain small dignities and uphold good habits. We push back against the dirt and the chaos. We laugh at absurdity and resist injustice. We share what we have, respect most of all.
This spring, renovations will begin on the building and it will nearly double in size.
This time next year, we'll able to see the street again through this window. For now, it serves well enough as a reflection of the world inside.