How do you define homeless? Is it defined by shelter? Or by how much or how little someone owns?
I occasionally help homeless people. I don’t cook, prepare, or supply anything. I just arrive, wear the gloves, and put food on their plates. Others do the hard work.
The homeless aren’t necessarily without a place to stay. No, they don’t own or rent a home, but they stay somewhere, even if it’s under an overpass.
One man in the food line was talking about the boat he lives in. I asked about it and he showed me a picture, on his cell phone. I thought,”How can he own a boat, have a cell phone, and be in a food line?” He lets another homeless guy stay on his boat too. He’s proud of his boat; I think it’s all that’s left of his former life.
A Thousand People
If you listened to the stories of a thousand people, you would hear a thousand different stories. Some would be affluent and some would be struggling financially. Some would be busy building exciting careers and some would be stuck in dead-end jobs. Others would be wrestling with disabilities, a few would be fighting cancer. Some would be depressed. And some would be losing the game of life and be homeless.
Some have part-time dish washing jobs. Some work when they can. Some stand on a street corner with a sign. Some have a boat and some have a car. Some have a grocery cart and some have a tarp. None have very much. None are able to sustain anything good for very long.
I don’t’ have the answers for homelessness.
The answers seem easy and the solutions obvious when the poor are someplace else. It’s when you spend some time with poverty that it gets overwhelming, and vexing.
The coat I gave today will get traded tomorrow for a night in a car.
Survival is daily, hour by hour, it’s made harder by cold fronts and easier by funded programs. The debilitating nature of homelessness is lessened, at least a little, and for a little while, by dedicated people with hearts of gold. Solving it isn’t their goal, they only wish to ease its pain.
And me? Well, I occasionally put food on a plate.