On a Monday or Saturday afternoon, you probably don't want to find yourself stuck behind Pete in the line at the grocery store. Pete is a broad shouldered cowboy that looks like he could be a bouncer at a night club.
Although Pete has owned a gym, he has never owned a restaurant. However, he is certainly capable of planning, shopping and preparing home cooked meals that can be served on the tailgate of his truck.
The day before I met him, his basket would have been full of enough groceries to feed over 100 people fajita salads. (He called them chiplote salads but most of his guests did not know what a chip lots salad was.) His basket was filled with chicken and pork, seasonings, tortillas, lettuce, shredded cheese, onions, big tubs of sour cream, salsa, hot sauce, chiplote sauce, ranch dressing, bowls, plastic forks, tin foil, water, baby wipes and trash bags.
On Tuesday, Pete filled ice chests with ice and loaded them with the food that needed to be kept cold. He grilled the meat and chopped it into bite sized pieces. Once the meal was ready, he loaded everything into his white Ford F-350 truck and picked up Doug, who had volunteered to help him.
I met them at the Waters Edge Park on Shoreline at 6 pm.. Pete and Doug climbed out of the truck. He left his cowboy hat on the dashboard along with a bible. They quickly introduced themselves and then got to work . There was no time to waste. He expected to make 4 more stops after he finished feeding the homeless at this park. His guests, the homeless people, started lining up. Many of the people knew him because he has been doing this two nights a week.
He started feeding the homeless himself after he discovered his church discontinued their program helping the homeless during the COVID 19 shutdowns. He reasoned that the homeless people's problems did not go away just because of shutdowns and stay at home orders.
They waited patiently while he served them one by one. The meal served looked like a fajita salad that could be served with a choice of chipotle dressing, ranch, picante sauce or hot sauce.
Each fajita bowl was prepared exactly how the person wanted it. Most of the people at the first stop wanted lots of sour cream. So, Pete gave them lots of sour cream.
After each of the homeless people at this location got a bowl, we drove to another park that was just a few miles away. After that, we drove another mile or two to another location where people rested on the sidewalk against a fence. Our next stop was another area near building housing city offices. The last stop was to serve group of people underneath a bridge.
By that time, he was running out of food. The lettuce and sour cream was gone. The meat was nearly gone. A straggler came up towards the end explaining he just got off work. He asked if we had anything left. He was given a bowl with a meat and the remaining tortillas.
The fajita bowls looked amazing. In addition to serving food, Pete gave out hugs, compassion, empathy, and prayers on request.
As a real estate broker, I actually talked to people that I generally tried to avoid looking at in the past. Honestly, I didn't realize that Corpus Christi had so many homeless people because I rarely see people at intersections begging for money.
I helped Pete and Doug twice this month (July) while they served meals. I had the opportunity to witness some of the good in humanity. At the same time, I witnessed many people that have had seemingly everthing in life go wrong.
I witnessed the ravages of drug addiction, poor choices and lots of bad luck. I met people crippled people and those with deformities. I prefer to not even think about how many felons that was among those served.
While I prefer to think about the smiles and the positive things I saw and heard; for the first time I saw the homeless as people. I learned what it felt like to be under a bridge as cars were driving over, mosquitos biting, and worrying whether a lad that woke up yelling, screaming and hallucinating was about to attack someone.
I went home and took a long bath - because I knew I was blessed to be able to do so. The next morning, I slept a little longer - simply because I was thankful to be blessed enough to have a comfortable bed to sleep on.
The next evening, I met Pete at a Whataburger so that I could give him copies of the photographs I took. While waiting for our order to come out, I saw a homeless person reach into a trash can and pull out a bag. He then quickly sat down at a table and opened it; hoping to find left overs. Pete ended up buying him and two others a meal.
People like Pete are in incredible in their desire to help the homeless in some small way.
One homeless person asked me why I was helping. I simply said that I was hoping that we could provide them with a few moments of peace and comfort.