By: Tim Valentine
Have you ever been walking down the street and had a homeless person ask you for some money and you acted like you didn’t hear them?
Have you ever been in your car and sitting at a light and rolled your windows up?
Have you ever given someone who was homeless money and privately questioned what they’re going to do with the little bit of money you gave them?
How often have you seen someone homeless and in addition to offering them some money you also gave them a compliment or a kind word?
Anyone can be the face of homelessness. The difference between you and that person living on the street is the circumstances of your story.
The question we choose not to ask someone who is homeless is What Happened?
Often it is because many choose not to care or ask or show any concern. We’re just happy that it isn’t us, right?
We spend so much time fighting to be seen more than we do concerning ourselves who just seek acknowledgment. Dare they question your sincerity, who are they to you, but an annoyance. This is the attitude many people implicitly accept when confronted with the ugliness of homelessness. We mistakenly transpose the ugliness of the situation onto the beauty of the individual captured within that situation.
Who is concerned enough to ask, what happened?
Some simply just don’t care. They’ll tell them to get a job, but never stop to think what address they will put on the application so the employer can send them their check, then what about taxes. If you have a job you’re required to pay your taxes. Where will the employer send their W2? Get a job is another way of saying, I’m not helping you, not go away. If you’re not able to offer them a job, then don’t say “Get a job.” Think, if they had a job, would they be homeless?
Have enough consideration to not step over, around or away from someone homeless, but help them up. Help them up with an encouraging word that means something to them. You can’t say, “hand in there” and expect that to go over well with them, when life has its boot on their neck.
If you have the time, ask them how can you help them?
If you have no money, food or shelter to offer, you can always listen. Sometimes a sincere handshake, tender smile or concerned word last longer than any amount of money, clothing or food you have to give.
I say this from the heart. I’ve been very fortunate to have never experience homelessness. But all it takes is a change in circumstances and I may be the one you step over and ignore.
Consider what can happened.