In September 1988, Geoff and Ginger Worden made their first of many Friday midnight trips to carry bag dinners, hot soup and coffee to the homeless on the streets of NYC.
This is their story, as told by Geoff Worden:
That first night, armed with about 20 bagged dinners and two thermoses — one containing soup the other coffee — we headed for Wall Street. Block by block we traversed the lower tip of Manhattan looking for the homeless. They were around us during the day, but of the many million homeless Americans — 80,000 in Manhattan alone — we couldn’t find one.
Sometime after midnight we reached the Brooklyn Bridge. “There’s someone,” I said, stopping the car. With bagged supper in hand, I approached a mound of newspaper. “Would you like a sandwich?” I called to one end of the mound. Then, not knowing which end might have ears, I addressed the other, “How about some soup?” At that point, the end first addressed stirred and two hands pulled back the newspaper, revealing a sleepy and very startled face.
“That’d be nice,” said the face.
“Which,” I asked, a little startled myself, “sandwich, soup or coffee?”
“Everything,” he said, “if that’s okay.”
With a grin I assured him that it was okay. I told him that we had been driving around for hours looking people living on the streets. ” Well,” he chuckled, “you’ll find plenty around here. There’s a fellow right over there.”
I stared into the shadows, not thirty feet from where our car had slowly passed minutes before, and saw a dark, grimy mound of cardboard. “Oh yeah,” I said, “and there’s another in that corner.”
This time my new friend howled with laughter. “That’s trash!” he said. And he was right. But at that moment, I wondered how it had come to be that at night in the shadows of our great cities, it’s difficult to distinguish between trash and human beings.
When we got ready to leave, they thanked us profusely and showered us with “God Bless You’s” – the most common words we hear on our Runs. “And God Bless You” we responded. “We’ll see you next Friday!” When we did in fact return the next Friday, they were amazed. When we were still coming in December, we had made real friends and new ones all over.
Once, one of our friends waited for us at his old haunt on a Friday to report that after working for several months he had gotten an apartment. “You cared,” he said. “You really cared, and that made a difference. Thanks.”
Soon friends started to join us on weekly Runs and so it is that Bridges was formed and aptly named for the place it began — under the Brooklyn Bridge.
Not love justice
Not respect justice
But DO justice