Serving Warsaw’s homeless…

2 Non-profits Do a Great Job!

I’m visiting my son, Jonathan, and his wife, Ola, and their daughter Frania in Warsaw, Poland… and we’re having a great time.

And during our visit I had heard that there was this group called “Warsaw Seva” that served a hot, vegetarian meal to the homeless in the main plaza in central downtown Warsaw, right below the Palace of Culture, each and every Sunday afternoon, so I was interested in observing and volunteering where I could. So I headed on downtown, a little earlier than the serving time began and ran into a few folks who were friendly and talkative.

First, I ran into Barbara and Barjena.

Barbara was quick to explain her view of the whole homeless situation in Warsaw. “They come from all over Poland,” she said. “When you’re out of work and you have no family to help you, it’s very hard.”

I then asked where they sleep at night? “Oh, sometimes we sleep under the Palace of Culture… sometimes in the park, ” she said. And then I asked if the police ever demanded that they “move on?”

She replied, “Sometimes they do… and sometimes they don’t.”

A little while later I ran into Mark and Wanda. They told me that they were from Moldova, and that they had been in Warsaw for the last 2 weeks looking for work. But they had had no such luck. And they said they were headed back to their homeland the next day. They were disappointed, but not discouraged. I then asked them if they had a faith in God. “Oh yes, God helps us all the time,” she said.

A while later, I noticed the Warsaw Seva folks were setting up shop. And I also observed the long line of “hungry” folks beginning to form, and waiting patiently until the food was ready to be served.

I went over to ask the “head server” if there was any way to volunteer my services. He quickly responded, “You want to help? Follow me. I will show what to do.”

He then brought me over to where “the drinks” were being distributed. He then filled a pitcher of “gatorade” and grabbed a small stack of paper cups, and handed them to me. “Now, you just go down the line and give anyone who wants a drink a cupful,” he said. And so I was off and running (walking), eager to play a small part in their service to the homeless. Though I don’t know hardly any Polish, I was warmly received by most folks.

And then just as Warsaw Seva folks were winding down, another group, entitled “Smile Warsaw” began to set up “shop” about 50 yards away from where Warsaw Seva had been serving. Smile Warsaw, I soon learned, was a group of ex-pats from so many different countries, religions, and worldviews. The one thing that bound them together was a united sense of the need for caring for those less fortunate.

This group was able to offer more services such as free clothing, free haircuts, a hot meal, minor medical services, and even someone to “cut nails.” The way I would describe these folks and their “gifts” to the homeless would be that… “These folks really just loved “loving on people.”

So I had a great time mingling and talking (where I could!) and observing both of these groups reaching out to Warsaw’s homeless in very simple, but practical ways.

Toward the end of my time, I ran into Gregory, who didn’t want his picture to be taken. We talked for a bit, when I inquired if he had ever “tried” God out?

He looked at me with a wry smile and said, “I don’t want to try sex with men, and I don’t want to try God.” He went on to explain that “God” is just not for him. He said his mother was a believer and a few of his friends but that “God” is not for me.”

I told him that I would pray for him. And he smiled, once again, and said, “If you want to pray for me, you can. Who knows, maybe sometime in the future “God” will be for me.”


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By |2018-09-25T14:55:35+00:00September 25th, 2018|General|0 Comments

About the Author:

Chris Ramsey has been a member of the Jesus People U.S.A. community in Chicago since 1975. Throughout those 40 years, Ramsey has been involved in evangelism, writing, interviewing, and serving the poor. He’s also a kind of “crazy” character who’s constantly asking himself, “Where do I fit in”? For the past 25 years, Chris has discovered that his role in serving the homeless and the poor at Cornerstone Community Outreach (CCO), seems to fit him quite nicely. He is happily married to Sandy Ramsey, the executive director of CCO, and has two adult sons, Christopher and Jonathan.