Every year, my church participates in Sleep Out Saturday which raises money and awareness for the Bridges Community. One night a year, both young and old people sleep outside in boxes, tents or in cars to help support our counties less fortunate ones.
A few weeks before Sleep Out Saturday there is always a service at church to remind us of the homeless issue and what Sleep Out is and why helping Bridges as well as PADS makes a difference.
It wasn’t until we watched this video today that made me pause and reflect on my past actions.
The New York City Rescue Mission put this video out. It struck me like a punch to the gut how we tend to ignore those of us that are homeless.
When I lived in Chicago I tried to never make eye contact with any homeless people. The few times I did I would sadly shake my head as if to say that I couldn’t help them. Or was it a wouldn’t help them?
I do recall one specific time when I had a $20 bill in my pocket to use at a coffee shop on the way to work. It was an extremely crisp late Fall morning. There was a little girl and her mother hovering in a doorway right next to the coffee shop. I had made eye contact with the little girl. I couldn’t look away, she looked so cold. I gave the little girl my twenty dollars. She whispered Thank You and I just walked away. When I told my coworkers they were mad at me.
“How could you make eye contact?” They asked me.
“You know the woman, who probably wasn’t her mother, took it and probably bought drugs!” They all said completely flabbergasted that I would give someone a twenty dollar bill.
But what if the Mom didn’t? What if the Mom used that money to buy meals for that day?
I never saw the Mother and child again on my walk to work.
I know that giving someone that is homeless a twenty dollar bill once does not make me a saint. I probably walked past hundreds of people on the streets and never thought twice to look their way. That fact saddens me.
Homelessness in this country is never going to go away.
I don’t have any answers but I do know that together we can all make a difference. What are you going to do?