Yellow Bag and Human Trafficking Inspire Action
At the monthly meeting of the Central Valley Realtors Association in Modesto on Wednesday September 9th, I was fortunate to speak to an audience of about 40 people about the church’s efforts regarding the fight against human trafficking as well as our yellow bag project. The intensity with which the message was received resulted in an audience which became dramatically silent. As evidence that these issues touched the hearts of those present, 25 realtors each took a yellow back to fill and use, taking all the remaining bags at St Paul’s. Others indicated that they would use grocery bags to fill and keep in the trunks of their cars. Additionally, two persons volunteered to be trained and work at “Without Permission,” the Modesto-based anti -trafficking organization. God is doing wonderful things in places where his children are needed!
Fr. Nick Lorenzetti, St. Paul’s, Modesto
Bag preparation at St Paul’s, Bakersfield
Story of the Bag- Start the Conversation
From Judi Wood, St. Paul’s, Visalia
I found Terry lying under a tree in front of the public library. Terry had been homeless for four years. Before that, he was taking care of his sick girlfriend and his unemployment ran out. She had arthritis and was in a wheelchair for 8 years. He lost his job when he was taking care of her. Terry had to lift her many times and hurt his back. Now Terry has no money and is 55 years old. He said he was trying hard not to bother people. I suggested he apply for disability social security if his back is so bad. He knew where the Social Security was located. Read more…
Terry thanked me and the Episcopal Church for the bag of food and other items. He took the water out of the bag right away and started drinking it. He did smoke and asked me for a dollar so he would have some funds in his pocket and would soon be able to buy a pack of cigarettes. I showed him my face, and said this is what happens for some people who smoked, head and neck cancer. I did give him a dollar. I said if he could walk down to our church, some of our congregation might be able to help him. I told him where the church was. He said he was a christian. Terry was very nice, and did not mind answering my questions and telling me about his situation.
But the only way I could find out about him was to ask questions.
I’ve tried to find him since then, but so far, I have been unable to find him.
A Yellow- Bag Story
Episcopal Church of St. John the Baptist, Lodi, CA
Around 7:15 pm on Aug. 11th, I was just about to pull out of the shopping center parking lot, when I saw a woman staggering towards me, disheveled, crying, and holding her head, with blood dripping down her side. I quickly pulled over and got out of my car to help. She was disoriented, in shock, and not sure what had happened. She was homeless, she said, and had been asleep under some shrubs in the greenbelt nearby, when she awoke to sudden pain in her head and blood all over. She saw a large stick lying on the ground nearby, but didn’t know if someone had hit her, or thrown it at her, or if it had somehow fallen on her (even though, she said, there had been no large trees nearby). She had the presence of mind to pick up her purse and bring it with her as she stumbled in search of help, but no one had helped her.
As I reached for my cell phone, the paramedics and police showed up – someone had seen her and called 911, and they’d been driving around the area looking for her—but even though she had passed several open fast food places and other businesses, no one had come to her and said, “Come, sit down, let us take care of you until the paramedics get here.” An officer headed off to check the area where it happened, to see if he could determine whether she had been attacked. (I wondered if she’d left other possessions in her “nest”, and if so, if he would leave them there or confiscate them, as the police so often do. And if he left them there, whether they would still be there when she was released from the hospital.) The paramedics checked her over – she didn’t appear to have a concussion, probably just needed the wound cleaned and maybe a few stitches – then prepared to take her to the emergency room.
I wanted to give her one of our Yellow Bags – to give her something, anything, to show that someone cared, that we wanted to make this horrible day a little bit better for her, but I didn’t have one. All I could do was hug her, and pray, for “Kimberly” and all “Kimberly’s”, that they find places of safety, and people who want the world to be brighter for them.
And to say to all of you – keep a Yellow Bag in your car. Even if you don’t think you’re likely to run into anyone who’s homeless, or aren’t sure you’d have the courage to approach them if you do. Keep one in your car. You never know when you’ll need it.