I am sitting in bed drinking my Horlicks, its 11: 05 p.m. on a Friday night. We are unwinding from our Drop-in centre. Our Church runs a drop-in on Friday nights. We open the doors at 6:30 p.m. and close up at 9:30 p.m. When people arrive they get sausages, bread and tomato sauce and there is a selection of sandwiches all around the hall. We have lounge chairs, couches, two pool tables, one table tennis table, stereo tuned into a music radio station, piano, jigsaw, some craft things and an area where people can watch TV. There is hot water going all night and people can help themselves to hot and cold drinks (non-alcoholic) Buns, loaf and sweet things are served throughout the evening. We would average around 40-45 through. The people who come are all unemployed, many are mental health patients and people with addiction problems. They range in age from a nine year old girl through to men in their seventies. An example would be tonight a guy was there who had been away for 5 months. He told me, "I got out on Wednesday" and talked about prison life. We have known him for years. Another young man has a carer with him because of his bad behaviour, but we find him delightful. He runs around helping to mix drinks, keep the water up to the urn, do dishes and generally with a smile, teasing and laughter enjoying our company. We have run the drop-in since 1995.
Tonight we had 65 through. It was such a good night, so much laughter, conversation and friendship. Both pool tables and the table tennis table were busy all night. I spent much of the night doing dishes, but conversed heaps and played both pool and table tennis. I looked at what was going on and thought that this was something unique and special.
At various times persons from among those who come step up and begin helping to host the night. We have had a man come for many years who has been very deaf, from birth I think. A year or so ago he got hearing aids which helped his hearing, but he still talks like a deaf person. Tonight he informed me that he had turned 48! (He looks younger) I wished him a happy birthday and he said, "I'm ooold now! - Hate it." I assured him he had a long way to go to catch me. While I was doing the dishes he came up with his cup and put it in the water. Then went away. Soon he was back with two more. Then he said, "I'll look for more" and he went around the room collecting cups and delivering them to be washed. I washed some teaspoons and a cup that we put them in and he dried them and took them back to the drinks station. I smiled inside... he had decided to join us in helping host the night. In some ways I think this is similar to, what they used to call, a "decision for Christ". Its signifies a very significant move. He has chosen to move from client to become a host. When he left he came over to me at the sink and said a special "Goodbye". When we got home we chatted about him and various people and how each had changed significantly for the better. Something special and good is going down each Friday night. I was tired and grumpy when I began tonight, but in spite of this, I loved my night.