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HELP, Inc. and Yorktown

March 12, 2013

Virginia – Thursday, March 7

Last night I researched some donation possibilities in the area, and found one right close to where I ended up. It’s called HELP, which is an acronym for Hampton Roads Ecumenical Lodging and Provisions. They’ve been helping homeless people for over 30 years, and are located in the Department of Social Services Building, but they have a big space of their own. There’s a food pantry, and numerous medical and dental exam rooms for the 500 patients who are seen by volunteer doctors and nurse practitioners and other medical personnel. I met one of the directors of the program and she showed me all around. She also told me about a cooperative effort among 28 churches in the city, which each take a different week to provide sleeping space and food for the homeless people, to get them through the colder months. The community center provides sleeping mats and the church volunteers provide dinner and breakfast, so there’s a lot of nice teamwork going into that effort. HELP was a busy place, and I put my donation toward the medical/dental part of the program.

Then I drove toward Yorktown and stopped to get a map at the Yorktown National Battlefield. Tula and I did a lot of walking on the battlefields, and my brain had to switch gears from Civil War history to American Revolution history. Yorktown was the site of one of the last battles of the American Revolution. Again, trenches and siege lines were visible, and we walked by the encampment sites. George Washington brought his troops down from New York for this siege, and to be walking on battlegrounds that George Washington had walked on is a pretty amazing feeling of history. One of the little roads we walked on has been in continuous use for over 300 years – even before the American Revolution. I eventually made my way back to the Visitor Center so I could watch the video and look at the exhibits. The actual tents that George Washington used are set up and displayed under glass – somehow they survived despite use in the years following the war. I think they’re the only 18th century military tents in existence.

Then I headed for the actual town of Yorktown, a wonderful old historic place. One of my cousins, Sandra, lives just outside of Yorktown and we met up for dinner at the Yorktown Pub, which opened back in the 1940s as The Ancient Mariner’s Inn. We enjoyed some good food and getting caught up. While we were there, a large group of coast guard trainees came in for dinner all dressed in their foul weather gear. They left about the same time we did, and we could see them heading to 4-5 small patrol boats. One of them told us they were headed out for a nighttime training exercise, and it was not a nice night to be out on the water! It was only about 42 degrees out and windy, but that’s part of their training – gotta give them credit! Even though it was kind of dark and windy, Sandra showed me around town a bit, and it’s always nice to hear about things from a local person! Then we went back to her condo for ice cream and more visiting, and her son Matthew joined us too. It was a really nice evening.
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