It is that time of the year. Ok, let me stop for a moment before I convulse with joy. I feel especially blessed to not only have a job, but a job that lets me enjoy it and the people I work with. I come home to an apartment that makes me feel safe and secure. I am thrilled that I have been able to spend quality time with my daughter and other loving relatives this year. I thank God that I am able to feel this way almost every day.
Unfortunately there are people who will never feel this way; people who will never know that feeling of joy that comes from eating three meals a day, a nurturing family or even job satisfaction. These people are called the homeless.
I remember in my younger days seeing homeless men on the street and bristling at hearing folks call them bums, hobos, and other mean spirited terms. I remember when I was a kid my grandmother (bless her heart) pointed at a man sitting on the curb and saying to me “don’t look at him”, “keep walking”, “don’t give him any money, he’ll just spend it on liquor”.
All this could have been true…maybe not. Not all homeless people are bums, hobos or worse. A great number (40%) are families. And among the families who are homeless with children, the majority cited loss of a job as the cause, followed by the lack of affordable housing.
Did you know that –
– Families with children make up the fastest growing segments of the homeless population today?
– According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, “Children in homeless families do worse in school and have lower attendance and more long-term absences”?
– A child is born into poverty every 33 seconds?
And so on and so on and so on.
I don’t have the cure for homelessness except maybe providing a person with a good paying job, affordable housing and services, training and maybe even substance abuse treatment. What I do know is that I have a lot and others have less…much less. It is not my intention to give to every person who asks me if I “have any spare change?” It is however my intention to never be humiliating and to give if I have it.
As it has been explained to me this is the season of giving. Think about giving a less fortunate stranger a coat you were going to throw out because it didn’t fit anymore, or gloves and a hat because they really weren’t your style anyway, or maybe even a $5.00 McDonald’s,Wendy’s, Burger King or Dunkin Donuts gift card.
Giving of yourself is good too. Check out the Chicago Food Depository sometime and help them out. Volunteer at a homeless shelter and help feed the many strangers looking for a warm heart and genuine smile.
I bet you will feel better than the stranger. Seasons Greetings!