Christmas for the Homeless in Perth
Last night I was asked to sing for a Christmas dinner for 100 homeless people in the middle of Perth City. I have done some pretty amazing gigs this year but I'd have to say this one tops the list as the most meaningful gig. It was organised by Sim and Jane from Homelessness; We Care- Perth Western Australia, who recruited a team of 60 volunteers to cook and serve dinner to the guests. There was a visit from Mother Santa who handed out Share the Dignity bags to the female guests and other donated gifts were given to the male guests. Gemma from Pearsall Podiatry was there handing out free shoes to the guests, I performed live Christmas carols and there was even a local TV station filming the event.
I find it amazing how music is able to connect people, whether you have a home or are homeless, whether you are rich or poor, whether you are young or old, whether you are insane or not, music can bring people together. One of the guests was an elderly man, and as he was enjoying his Christmas meal, he was singing and dancing along to the carols I was performing. I overheard him saying to the guests at his table, 'This music is making me feel happy!' I was there with the intention of blessing the guests through my music, but I think they brought me even more joy than I brought them!
Sometimes you might see a person just yelling wildly in the streets, and you can't really understand what they are yelling out or who they are yelling to, but they are angry and you might just walk on the other side of the street and avoid eye contact with your safety in mind. There was one guest like this at the event, but as I started to sing 'Baby it's Cold Outside,' this particular guest grabbed a lantern and started singing along and dancing with her lantern in front of me. It was so amazing! After the song finished, they said their child and sister had gone back to Bethlehem, and I couldn't understand a lot of what was said, but somehow understood that they had died. They asked me to sing a song about Bethlehem and held a lantern and sang along as I performed 'O Little Town of Bethlehem.'
There was this moment of eye contact and connection where I understood their pain and why they were the way they were, all because of the music. Afterward they said, 'I think you're an angel that was sent here tonight just to sing that song for me.' I felt a bit teary at the time, truly touched and am a bit teary just writing this. Not long after I packed up and they were back on the streets yelling wildly to no one in particular.
So many of the guests came up to me afterward and we so genuinely grateful for the music. They applauded throughout the evening and were so thankful. The truth is, is that I had actually booked in a paid Christmas carols gig at The Ellington Jazz Club on the same date, but unfortunately the gig had to be cancelled. Then this gig came up and I can honestly say that this was way more meaningful and my favourite gig of the year!
As we go about the festive season, we tend to get stressed about silly things like presents, money, relatives, people pleasing, the presentation of our homes, petty arguments, etc. This gig has taught me that if I have a roof over my head on Christmas Day, that I'm truly blessed and none of those other things really matter in the grand scheme of the universe, and to be mindful that there are homeless people in our own backyard in Perth City who will be on the street wondering where their next meal will come from on Christmas Day. So eat, drink, be merry, be thankful for the roof over your head, and if you'd like to help in some way, consider volunteering for Homelessness; We Care- Perth Western Australia or making up a bag for Share the Dignity. Merry Christmas :)