This week I had an opportunity to volunteer with a church and try to help the homeless in our city. It was very eye opening as I didn’t realize how many homeless people we actually had in our city.
We drove around downtown with “goody” bags filled with either toiletries or sandwiches and snacks. When we actually did find someone we handed them out. There were social workers with us to talk to people and discuss maybe getting some services (VA, DSS, etc). Most of them declined. They were also offered a free night in a hotel; so they could have a warm bed and a hot shower. A couple of them took that offer.
It was really disheartening to find makeshift bedrooms underneath a bridge near part of a highway. Beds made out of old, cold, dirty blankets. They had their little bathroom area where you could see their toothbrush and toothpaste all nicely lined up. Extra pairs of boots and clothes here and there. Maybe some snacks if they were lucky enough to make any money panhandling.
Of course, there were some needles to be found laying around. Those are the ones who don’t want anyone’s help. They would rather sit in the cold if it means they can get high. There were a few veterans (one said he had been living there for 15 years or so), a young guy with a cat, an older woman who looked very clean and put together even though she lived in a tent.
It just makes me sad that we spend so much time worrying about other countries…and yes, I get it, other countries do have it “worse”. But there is so much we could for OUR people…the ones actually want help and want a home and a job… I know there are shelters. But there are never enough shelters. I feel like with all of the money the government rakes in from people, the least they can do is develop a solid “anti-homeless” plan, if you will. Of course, maybe there is one in the works, but I don’t know of one.
All we can do is try to help them in any way we can. And try to get other people to do the same. Most people turn a blind eye toward it; I won’t lie, I have before. As if it will just go away. But it will never go away.