This weekend I joined other leaders from my Church and 10 high school youth at Reggie’s Sleepout. It’s an annual event that raises awareness and funds for homeless youth in our area.
The event is named after a young man who died homeless, shortly after aging out of the foster care system.
Participants raise money for Iowa Homeless Youth Centers and sleep out overnight in cardboard homes they build on the field at Drake Stadium in Des Moines. This is the 12th year for the event and my 7th year attending.
Going into the event this year I was a little nervous because of the weather. We were set to arrive at 4 pm and the weather forecast called for 99% chance of rain between 7 pm and midnight. We would have to work fast building our shelter if we had any hope of staying dry.
In previous years we took a laidback approach to our shelter. This year, with the weather closing in, we all worked with a purpose. In no time at all, we had our structure up and started to tarp the roof. Two-thirds of it got covered before we heard an announcement over the loudspeakers.
The field needed to be evacuated because of a thunderstorm warning. We tossed all our bags into our “home” and headed for some real shelter. The sky let loose a minute or two before we all got inside. Everyone was moving quickly and in good spirits but it takes awhile to get hundreds of people through a single doorway.
Once inside we waited. Some played cards. Some played with a football. Others danced. This went on for a few hours. So did the rain and lightning.
Around 9 pm we got the official word that the event was canceled. It wasn’t safe to go back out on the field so everyone’s belongings had to stay on the field overnight and could be retrieved in the morning.
On the drive home in a downpour of rain and surrounded by lightning the purpose of the whole event hit me. I was lucky. I, along with the rest of my group, was headed home. To a house… out of the elements.
There are others in our area who aren’t as lucky. They don’t have a place to go home to. They have to endure whatever Mother Nature sends their way. Rain, sleet, snow, cold temps, and more.
With this experience fresh in my mind… I offer up this week’s Bible verse: Proverbs 19:17 (NIV)