I have just finished reading the “No Place to Call Home” articles on homelessness in the Observer-Reporter. I sat for a few moments in order for the articles to sink in, and then I decided to write a letter. I know quite a few of the people referenced in the articles, due to the fact that at one time I was homeless myself.
One may encounter homeless individuals each and every day and not even know it. Some do not draw attention to themselves. Some choose to be in this situation for their own reasons, yet there are others who fight hard to make it out and regain the lives they once knew. Many are God-fearing people who have just had a series of bad breaks.
Most homeless people have come to know each other as family in the truest sense of the word. Should you not see a person for a short while, you become worried and check on their well-being. It is a bond that only the homeless would understand. Even if we cannot help each other financially, help is still there. Homeless people are just that – people.
Reading through the articles, I was stunned to see many comments stereotyping the homeless, including “burden,” “nuisance,” or “problem.” Instead of being portrayed for who they actually are, the homeless were spoken of as if they were objects. Many business owners stated that having the homeless around their establishments would deter people from frequenting their businesses. I could not believe what I was reading. These people are the same as you or me. What right does anyone have to look down on them?
After being homeless, I was able to get back on my feet again. I made a promise there and then that I would find a way to help the homeless. Throughout the last few years, I have approached several organizations with my idea, explaining what I wanted to do and some of what I needed to make it happen. It was to no avail.
We state that we are Christians and are trying to be the best Christians that we can be. Would God be proud of our actions and words toward the homeless? We are to love our neighbors as ourselves. Have we done that to the best of our abilities? Only each individual reading this can answer that question.
Tracy Lee Weishner