Homeless has a name
I know with this post, I’m running the risk of losing some readers who might think I’m on a soapbox about the homeless. I’m also not one who wants my blog to be completely serious with only serious topics. However, this is my blog and I can write as I please about what I please. And today I want to write about my thoughts after going to hear Mark Horvath speak last night about ending homelessness. I’ve already burned the ears of those around me with this topic and I might be all talked out about it for now, but this post is more for myself, because it is such an important topic that I don’t want to forget about. So bear with me on this rant and please, if you have any comments at all feel free to post them.
I’ve always been one who “wasn’t called to the homeless”. In reality that meant I was afraid of what I might find and afraid of my safety. I’d volunteered at Seven Hills Homeless Shelter and felt so uncomfortable. This isn’t for me. I’ll work with other people, children, sex trafficking victims. I’ll pass out food every once in a while, but that’s about it. I’ll let someone else deal with them because I feel uncomfortable.
I can’t even express how ridiculous that sounds to me now. First of all, I didn’t realize that sex trafficking victims and children ARE homeless. Did you know the average age of the homeless in America is 9? 9 years old. That blows my mind. You can show me pictures of people on the streets with signs all day and it won’t affect me, but children? Half of the homeless in Arkansas are under the age of 18. Please, read that again. Half of the homeless in Arkansas are under the age of 18.
Now as I was sitting in the talk last night listening to Horvath speak and leaders from homeless shelters in nwa and homeless themselves, I was thinking.. what can I do? What talents has God given me to help? There was an amazing story about a homeless man who went to the awareness rally on campus last year and met someone who ended up taking him to breakfast every Saturday and eventually who got him a job and a place to live.
So often we get scared and use that as an excuse. This business man, family man, took this man home for Thanksgiving. When his friends asked him how he could invite a stranger into his home with his family for Thanksgiving, he looked at them and said.. I’m not inviting a stranger in. I’m inviting a friend.
It all comes down to relationships. Focus on the person, not the problem.
Anyway, so I’m thinking about what I can do to help. I’ve always been drawn to children and mentoring those younger than me. If HALF of the homeless in Arkansas are under 18, I think I can do something to help. God is practically throwing himself in front of me with flashing lights and a megaphone. I can’t stand by. I firmly believe, Once you know about a problem, you have the responsibility to change it.
Now I understand not everyone wants to mentor people. But there’s SO MUCH you can do. It really got to me when a leader from the Samaritan Community Center said, “We need people to answer the phones.” How simple is that? Who doesn’t have time for that a few hours a week? And it may not seem like anything, but it is. That’s a need that they are having.
All of the leaders discussed the proper ways to help end homelessness, and guess what, it’s not handing out sandwiches every Sunday. Hate to break it to you, but that’s not exactly getting them off the streets is it? If you really want to help, partner with a homeless shelter, because what they REALLY need is jobs, housing and healthcare.
Well, there’s my two cents. Thank you Mark Horvath and all of those who spoke last night for opening my eyes.