Another Night at Open Door
20 Feb, 2017
Slogging through the snow on a cold Tuesday evening, I am on my way to another Open Door. As I cross St. Catherine Street and walk past the Cathedral, I can already see guys gathered outside chatting and smoking. Smiles greet me as I approach, with the next few minutes spent greeting everyone – How are you doing?… Good to see you… Haven’t seen you for a while… We missed you last week…. Peter is deep in conversation with 2 guys, and I interrupt to get the keys from him for the storage space.
I head for the lift to the second floor to begin setting up the room for tonight’s meeting and several guys accompany me knowing that I’ll need lots of help to arrange the tables and chairs. A nice surprise awaits, however – the room is already set up – 8 tables in a rectangle surrounded by 40 or so chairs. Looks like the Bishop must have had a meeting there earlier – she even left us some goodies!
A quick check in the kitchen confirms that Tom and Patrick are already hard at work making the coffee and preparing the food for later in the evening.
By the time I get back in the room, it’s 6.45pm and it is already filling up. I check with Jeri whether we will be needing the projector tonight and she nods affirmatively and adds that the speakers will also be needed.
Before I can look around, Jean is by my side ready to help fetch the equipment from storage. We quickly assemble everything- not forgetting to bring the wooden doorstop used to adjust the height of the projection on the screen, which Gordon has already thoughtfully pulled down. One more chore to do – get the music started – and Gordon is there again to help as the CD player jams.
By this time the room is almost full. People have been trickling in in 2s and 3s from downstairs – cigarettes smoked or conversations over. The buzz in the room is a constant background noise as everyone catches up with old friends or new acquaintances. One Pen is here tonight so there is an extra hubbub.
Suddenly I spy a new face looking in uncertainly at the door and quickly go over to say “Hi” and “Welcome to Open Door”. She says she learned about us through the internet whilst looking for a restorative justice activity in the city, and decided to check us out. I quickly outline what she can expect to happen in the next few minutes, with Jeri calling the room to order and then announcements, a spiritual moment, and finally introductions before the presentation starts – warning her that as it is her first time at OD she will be applauded by everyone when she introduces herself by giving her first name.
She takes a seat between two guys and I return to my seat near the front of the room and belatedly begin taking the attendance. Peter ushers up the stragglers – having locked the street door and posted the sign for any latecomers to call him on his cell. Jeri bangs the gavel and another Open Door gets underway!