Log of S.H.I.P Experiences

Photos and Jounal Entries from S.H.I.P. Runs

After serving him hot coffee and some food, Yun Lee '97 and Gene Vann '95 converse with Jim "The Dutch". The Dutch (as he is known) has been out on the streets for many years.

"Dave, Peter, and I all thought this was a great experience. It was very chilly this morning and though we had trouble waking some people up, everyone was very, very appreciative. I really liked listening to their individual stories-- [one man, named] Rick especially impressed me with his knowledge of DNA structure and his interest in Biology, and his understanding of the global recession. Homeless people became 'real' people for me today and I'm so glad that I could help them." - Ritu Banerjee, '94 Sunday, November 8, 1992

"The runs are an amazing experience. You get out there at 8:00 AM in the in the middle of winter, and just give the people a little coffee, food and conversation. Sometimes it is so cold that you need to hurry to get back into the car, and you realize with astonishment that being homeless means being outside all the time, even early Sunday morning when nobody is around. I really like the runs because they are such a simple thing to do. You are not out there to cure world hunger, you are simply letting the people know you care. The coffee and sandwiches are warmth for the spirit as much as anything else." - Elizabeth Frost '96

Carl Erik Heiberg '96 serves a homeless man on the streets of Philadelphia.
   "If the people are hungry and desperate every day as they were tonight,
    why am I not out there every night? I'm ashamed to say I cannot give a
    satisfactory answer.  We offered food to maybe fourteen people tonight
    and were helpful to ten-twelve of them. A few were solitary; then there
    was a group of three, a group of four, and a couple.
        I heard stories of frustration and stories of sincere advice. Two or
    three spoke specifically of the American dream-- they had a dearer vision
    of it than I do-- but they now spit on the system-- one however, is much
    less bitter because God is on his side. Love can do wonders and for that
    gentleman, we were God's love offering some respite from the seemingly
    godless nature of the pavement they sleep on. Maybe I'm speaking too
    highly of myself. Words like 'respite' and 'pavement' belong in cliche
    -- I'm sorry."
                        - Sunil Shah, '94
                          October 2, 1992, Friday night

"I didn't expect this from having the job of driver; I saw the most beautiful scenes from this job...the idea the fulfilling of the need is so overwhelmingly beautiful, that I cried for the first time. Being the driver sounds like it offers little opportunity for service, and maybe that's true, but it does offer the worthwhile opportunity to think seriously about what is happening and being done right in front of myself. It is so beautiful, so basic that IUd be prepared to say that being driver and staring at scenes of goodwill and humanity is a totally different, distinct experience from serving the food and making friends on the street." - Sunil Shah '94 October 4, 1992, Sunday morning

"Basically, my strongest memory is from being in the city on a very cold and windy morning. We were talking with two homeless people and gave them coffee, food, and some clothing. They told us that we should hurry back to the car since it was so cold out. I was struck by their concern for us, especially since they were living in such frigid conditions." - Steve Dubois '96

"Bunny, David and I went out this morning. It was really cold today-- just standing outside for a few minutes and my toes got numb-- and the people that we met are out there twenty-fours hours with much less clothing to keep warm than I have. We talked with Warren-- and he had a really big smile. When we went to the park-- people came out of nowhere asking for sandwiches and coffee... and I realized what a scarce resource a blanket can be ... Another man we talked to told us how depressed he gets sometimes when he thinks about his situation...What does a homeless person do to get out of his situation? What are steps he can take? ... Barry told us that he couldn't get a free place at a shelter unless he was mentally ill or a drug addict. Barry told us that Halloween night (he also called it Mischief Night) some men set him on fire. He showed us his hand-- it was covered with blisters and burn marks. He told us to count our blessings, and said that he wished people could walk in his shoes-- even if just for a day. So do I." - Mishi Faruqee '93 Sunday, November 15, 1992

Yun Lee '97 and Gene Vann '95 continue to talk to Jim "The Dutch". As it turns out, The Dutch actually visited Swarthmore sometime in the 1960s for a frat party.
   "The beauty of SHIP, for me, is its direct involvement with the homeless.
    Your particular views about homelessness itself, what you think should be
    done about it, your political stance, etc., are inconsequential. The only
    thing that really unites the group is a hands-on attitude toward helping
    the homeless. If that is how you, too, want to deal with the homeless
    problem, then you've fulfilled all the requirements for membership.
    That's it, that's all. Now that I consider it more, though, the most
    appealing aspect of the organization is not its direct involvement, but
    what comes from that direct involvement. To actually go on a run, and
    meet homeless people; to help them out and talk to them, is one of the
    most satisfying things that I have done at Swarthmore.
        Going on a run certainly changes your perceptions of homeless people.
    They often smell and look bad but that makes them no less human. When you
    speak to some of them, which many will want to do, and you hear them talk
    of their past and of their hope for the future you realize that they are
    no different than you. It is strangely poignant to realize this point
    because it brings a flood of compassion and understanding along with
    deep-seated anger at whatever injustice caused them to be where they are.
    Their situation is horrible, and with things the way they are, it does not
    seem that the future holds much promise for the homeless. SHIP helped me
    to realize that my help does make a difference to the homeless we serve.
    How do I know? Their thank you's are the most genuine I have ever heard."
                        - Kerry Boeye '97

"Sharon and Van, Sarah, Clarence... I want to remember these names. And Felix, who sat smiling on the street corner. And Cornell, waving us over from the heating grate from which he was not terribly eager to leave. And Rain ('like what falls from the sky') who decided we 'were not going to get off so easily' and had us stay and talk awhile (not that we were in any great hurry). I just want to remember these names and the people behind these names. It surprised me when Sharon gestured toward Van and said that he was her husband. I had never thought of homeless people as being married before. I don't know why not. It's all about attitude." - Germaine Li '96 Sunday, November 14, 1993

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Page by Carl Heiberg'96.