As some of you know, I was diagnosed with cancer in November 2017. My 10-month battle has affected my work at the shelter. Normally, when a donation comes in, I promptly send a thank you card. Because I have been lax in that important duty, I must begin this post by extending a huge thank you to all supporters and donors to the St. Francis Shelter. I have not overlooked you and am eternally grateful, though a bit ashamed that I have fallen behind on these important ‘thank you’ cards.
Guest post by E.S. Kraay
Author of The Olympian, A Tale of Ancient Hellas
Growing up in the Berkshire Hills in the 1950’s, I had direct experience with hobos and bums. Only a 200-yard field overgrown with weeds separated our house from the railroad tracks, and a small stand of thick woods, mostly pine trees and some maples sat directly west of our driveway. The railroad was the hobos’ primary mode of transportation, and the stand of trees gave the wayward some shelter from winter snow and summer rain while they listened for the next approaching train. We could look out our bathroom window and see the small fires they made. That’s when we knew hobos were spending the night in the woods. We didn’t fear them. My mother would prepare sandwiches, and my brother and I would take the sandwiches and a thermos of fresh, hot coffee to the hobos. As I kid, I remember that bums and hobos preferred black coffee. I believe their preferences have changed. There was no derogatory intent when we called them bums and hobos, and they acknowledged the ‘title’ as an apt description of the lifestyle they had chosen. No offense given… none taken.
Carl always reminds us to spare our judgments upon those whose choices have led them to homelessness. As I read pastor Mark Schloneger’s gut-wrenching article “Let Me Stand” in the Summer issue of Plough Magazine, I was reminded once more that few of us knows the events that drive people to do things we frown upon. Consider it mandatory reading.
Warsan Shire (British-Somali poet)
contributed by Chuck Dunn
no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark.
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city
running as well.
Third Order of Friars Minor
Where there is hatred let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
not so much seek to be consoled as to console
to be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to eternal life
One individual stands uniquely apart from all the people who have come to Carl Zawatski’s aid as he continues his battle with cancer. When help was desperately needed an unlikely angel appeared in the form of Jay Cunanan, a young Philippine man who found his way to Tucson after arriving in the United States one year ago in 2017. His culinary skills perfectly match the needs of the St. Francis Shelter kitchen. When one works in the homeless environment, he learns that angels are everywhere!
Two months ago, I was eating a hot dog – probably one of the softest meats (if it really is meat) known to humankind. The hot dog is the staple of many a homeless person. I could not finish it. I was still hungry, but I could not finish the hot dog. I couldn’t swallow the damn thing. Thinking it was heartburn or some other trivial condition that would pass, I blew it off, but several days later, I continued to have difficulty swallowing, and it wasn’t just food. I struggled to swallow my own saliva.
As we reported last week, St. Francis Shelter Director Carl Zawatski is undergoing cancer treatment. Despite the challenge he faces, he offered an update for the website. In his email, he writes, “I was extremely sick from the initial treatment and got the flu on top of the chemo. God, I felt like shit. Anyway, I got a little reprieve here for the last four or five days. I have another treatment after Wednesday. According to the Doc, soon the radiation is going to build up on me and that will make me very ill, also. So, I’ll have no more breaks and won’t feel normal until March or April. That’s why I wanted to get this out now.” Carl’s message follows…
This is a short post to alert you to the fact that St. Francis Homeless Shelter Director Carl Zawatski is engaged in a physical challenge and currently under-going cancer treatment. Under the circumstances, he may not be as readily available as he normally has been.
It seems as if St. Francis himself has dispatched an army of helpers, Friends of St. Francis, to make sure the shelter and thrift store continue to operate smoothly through these cold winter months. It is operating exactly as Carl would expect it to operate.
Your prayers and support are greatly appreciated by Carl and the hundreds of homeless men and women in Tucson who he serves.
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