From a rare friendship, a book club for the homeless is
At the crest of Beacon Hill in a well-appointed room, the
Tuesday morning book club is tearing a novel apart. The story
of the book club, now having marked its one year anniversary,
began with a stunningly unlikely friendship, between two men
from different worlds: Peter Resnik, a high-powered lawyer on
his way to work, and Rob, a homeless man guarding a friend’s
shopping cart on Boston Common.
Through months of daily conversation that began with jokes
and sports talk and gradually delved deeper, they found a common
interest: literature. After sharing a book, they started a book club.
Their story has been told on CBS and You Tube and our
members have seen their story; one of them, Wendy Coe, told
me about it and approached me about potentially starting such
a book club as an extension of our homeless ministry.
Beginning November 3rd, we will start a homeless book club
here at Bethel. We will be one of five such book clubs that we are
aware of in the country: New York, Detroit, Boston, Jackson-
ville and now Madison. Our book club is possible due to a
generous start up donation of $500 from the University Hill
Farms Circle. Bethel members Suzanne Alexander and Norv
Bernhardt will be leading the weekly book club.
Our first book will be “Water for Elephants,” a story set in
the Great Depression about a veterinary student who joins a traveling
In the one year that the Boston book club has been in
existence, it has proved its power to reach homeless people and
build their confidence, filling the gaps left by programs that
offer food and shelter but little or no personal connec-
tion. When talk flows at the book club, the dynamic that
emerges has been powerful. The members are equals, linked
by what they read and respected for their insights. Their dis-
cussions are both a stimulus and respite for people used to
staying focused on survival.
The friendships we have made in our weekly homeless
spiritual support group have been transformative for all of us who
have participated. As we undertake this new mission, we pray that
this ministry can be an effort in helping to restore self esteem and hope.
~Pastor Laura Sutherland