Times being what they are, I recently spent a day in a homeless shelter.
Along with a dozen other visitors, I toured Chicago’s 133-year-old Pacific Garden Mission, which recently moved into a large new building. Our guide showed us the three stark dormitories in which guests sleep, the security desk overlooking the staging area in which guests are checked for “things of the world,” the “hot box” in which guests’ clothing is decontaminated overnight.
We met no overnighters, only sharply dressed “program men,” full-time mission residents who devote themselves to a two-year course of bible study and life-skills training.
During dinner, visitors were politely but firmly encouraged to sit in the middle of the mission’s dining hall. This helped to separate female and male residents, important for practical and religious reasons..