I really like the Fall season. The weather changes and cool air wraps around us and rustles the leaves on the trees. Some people hurry to begin their annual process of caring for their grounds, plants, gardens, etc. What I enjoy even more is that it is a season of giving; a season of hope and soft hearts. I have worked many years with people who are normally forgotten, they are street people, homeless, veterans, people with disabilities who’s only surviving supporter died, or may not have been able to care for their basic needs any longer. I have gained many homeless friends over the years that I wouldn’t trade for all the money in the world. They are real people who have the same problems as you and I. The misconception about all homeless people being either lazy, drug addicts or alcoholics has run amuck and caused distance and a divide. I can tell you that everything regarding homelessness is hard and it is hard work. I don’t believe that anyone in their right state of mind chooses homelessness to be choosing it. There are always root causes. Like with any other problem, if people are not familiar with your particular problem or cannot relate, then they make excuses that may not necessarily be true, regarding why you are like you are. There will always be stereotypes – that we cannot change, as long as we have opinions. The reality is that the homeless need a hand up, not so much a hand out. Don’t get me wrong, they will truly benefit in ways that you can never understand unless you get involved to see it for yourself. Sacrificial giving is needed. But even more, many of the street people have unbelievable skills and if one could give them a chance to prove that they are not their circumstance, it would be the greatest blessing. They need work, they need resources, they need information and if you have it to share – it will not be wasted. There may, as with anything else, be a bad one or two in the bunch that may not work out but that will not be the norm. What a wonderful world this would be if every grocery store instead of throwing out the day old bakery goods or any other food would think to give it to someone who does not get a regular meal. Or the department stores who mark all items down that are not returned to vendor and trash them if they are not sold… how human it would be to give to someone who needs fresh clean clothes.
If there is one thing that I share as a take way regarding homeless or street people it would be that they are not just hungry on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Many people have a desire to work with homeless after doing so during a feeding event over the holidays. What they don’t realize once jumping into it is that this is a real problem. It doesn’t go away just because we decide to help. Yes, it gets better for some and it can be a lengthy process to see someone with no home finally gain one. In all, you must know that deciding to put in volunteer hours is an awesome thing that requires prayer. One cannot begin to volunteer to make themselves feel good or gratify themselves before others, it will never work. You will quickly realize that this is not a job that will give you a title or glamour . . . no one is better than anyone else in this arena. The people begin to love and trust you (many of whom have rejection or abandonment issues) and view you as a friend. It is not a position for a love ‘em or leave ‘em attitude. Again, they are real people with real feelings. We don’t’ like it when others walk into our lives only to walk out. The homeless are no different. This economy is tough for most, but if there is anything that you can do to bring joy to their hearts, I would encourage you to begin today. Give someone a bottle of water on a warm day, gloves, socks, and toothbrushes, deodorant, if you don’t want to give money. In the summer months I carry a cooler with ice and bottle water, in my car. I hand them out to those standing out in the elements who don’t have the luxury of air conditioning. Each winter I try handing out something that will keep them warm. If I have extra money during off seasons … I normally purchase gloves, hats, caps, socks, scarfs, that are clearanced. In the winter and fall seasons I may hand out an entire care package with one of each of the items or at least one or two items to those that I see. A major need for most street people is backpacks. It is something that goes with them where ever they go. It’s like their house. They keep everything they have in it. If your planning to hand out a backpack or two – make sure it is a good sturdy back pack. It would have to with stand the weather elements, and the constant over packing that will take place when they cramp all of their belongings into it. There is so much of a need that I can’t go through them all but if I can clear up any misconceptions or answer questions; it would be a privilege to do so. It would be great for all to know that homelessness isn’t a fad.
Quiet By Nature™
- The Ugly Truth (streetsheetsf.wordpress.com)