Recently, Camp Hope had a very special visitor come spend time with our staff and residents, from Denmark, named Ole Sorensen. Ole works with the homeless in his native country on the island of Langeland and is the Head of Housing and Shelter and Support for The Corner. The Corner consists of:
– A day deck shared house with 5 apartments + 1 acute housing
– A non-alcoholic cafe
– A kitchen
– A center where various activities
– A workshop with the possibility of minor repairs and outdoor tasks
Ole has been traveling the North American continent for the last three months studying and meeting different groups that work with the homeless, starting in Vancouver and making his way down the west coast, coming here to Las Cruces as he is an acquaintance of Councilwoman Thomas, and then Memphis and New Orleans. When we first met Ole, introduced by Randy Harris who hosts the Great Conversation, I was immediately struck by his compassion and devotion as he spoke about his work in Denmark and his experiences while traveling. We spent an entire day together touring the Mesilla Valley Community of Hope Campus and speaking to their staff and Executive Director Nicole Martinez, eating lunch at El Caldito Soup Kitchen, and talking with the staff and residents in Camp Hope. By the end of the day it seemed we had made a new friend and he promised that he would come back to see us again after he went to Memphis and New Orleans before he went back to Denmark.
The Thursday after Christmas Ole returned and Camp Hope Volunteer Manager James Vonbehren invited him to come to an after Christmas party at his girlfriend Gloria’s with several of our staff and their family. We had a good meal and enjoyed sharing some holiday spirit and we all felt blessed seeing each other as a homeless community becoming friends and like family having so much success helping others and each other transition. Ole was so impressed by our work that he said he wanted to take it home to Denmark with him. So Friday he came back to the camp with a video camera and spent all day and then Saturday and Sunday with our camp staff and residents speaking about their life here so that he can present it to his colleagues and raise money to help the homeless in Las Cruces for our Camp Hope Health Initiative. His main concern is dental care and eye care, as in Denmark all medicine is subsidized by their government for everyone.
Sunday night we invited Ole to dinner at our friend “Bicycle” Bob Lindsey’s apartment. We have all known Bob for years and he was a resident in our camp before Nicole Martinez got him into one of their housing programs where he has been living there for about seven months. Bob is one success story and his transition has been an inspiration to all of us. I made some fish tacos and James Sykes Sammy Bob and I had an amazing evening talking with Ole and enjoying a good meal together. It was special for all of us to have Ole here and spend this time getting to know us. And we are honored that out of all the groups of people working with the homeless that he has met in his travels, that he is going to take Camp Hope back to Denmark with him. Thank you, Ole, for investing in Camp Hope, we are all very excited that you are supporting our program and becoming part of our family.
Happy New Year Everyone!