The homeless are not “a problem”; the homeless are people: each with a story to tell, each with a dream of a better life, each with a longing for meaningful human connections. They need food and shelter. They need medical care. They need jobs. In some cases they need drug treatment. But perhaps most of all they need someone to sit down beside them and just listen.
Years of my life, both professionally and personally, have been spent in the company of people in crisis … most recently feeding the homeless. I am thinking of the 60-something-year-old woman from Puerto Rico who periodically walks to the hospital for a blood transfusion she requires to control a medical condition. I am thinking of the young man who traveled to Spokane to find a sister he only recently learned he had, only to have the relationship blow up in his face and found himself stranded in Spokane.
I am thinking of the not more than 14-year-old boy peeking out from behind his makeshift shelter too frightened to take the cup of soup I was offering him. I am thinking of the lonely elderly woman sitting on the steps of a church. Most of all I am thinking of the man who looked me in the eye and stated, “I don’t need your apple. What I needed was that hug.”
Please don’t presume that you know who the homeless are until you have taken the time to find out.