The Wrecking

Scott and Tania













My friend Tania Hansen wrote this moving description of her night serving homeless friends on The Relief Bus. Her husband is Assistant Director of Outreach, Scott Hansen.


Last night I had the great pleasure and privilege of joining Scott and Kai and an amazing team of New York City Relief volunteers on the streets of NYC. Not only did I get to experience serving under my husband’s leadership and witness my sweet son’s kind and gentle compassion in action, I also got to meet Henry* (name changed, of course, to protect his privacy).

I held Henry’s hand as he told me his story. One of seven children, living in extreme poverty, a childhood marked by violence and abuse. With tears streaming, he told of the beatings he endured trying to protect his beloved mother and siblings from his father’s brutal attacks. A childhood of fear, lack, misery and eventual abandonment.

A childhood broken and stolen.

Brokenness that manifested later as an adulthood of severe alcoholism.

Henry believed he could beat it. He believed he could have and give something better. He worked two jobs and got married and had a daughter. He believed he could overcome his dark and painful beginnings and his alcohol addiction.

Sadly, after losing his childhood and family to abuse and neglect, the alcoholism stole what he had left: his jobs, his health, his marriage and his relationship with his treasured daughter.


“I have no one and nothing left.”
Weeping, he looked down at his lap.
His words slurred, “I have this hat.”

It was a Saturday night in Manhattan. Beautiful people in their beautiful clothing, hustling by on the sidewalk, headed to their evening outings in the magically mild October breeze.
Not seeing Henry. Not seeing his shaking hands, his tattered clothing, his story, his pain.

It’s so much easier to not see.

It’s so much more comfortable to dismiss and label the homeless person in the dark corner as a bum, hobo, degenerate, junkie, loser, panhandler, beggar. Labels that allow us to look away, because “they” have made their bed, and now they can lie in it.

I honestly don’t know how Scott and his colleagues step into the pain on the streets day after day, week after week. Coming face to face with sorrow and despair will wreck you to the core.
In the most holy way.

God, thank you for the wrecking.

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