Today, our church hosted “Homeless Connect,” an event that is put together by United Way, bringing together the faith based community, not for profits and government agencies to assist those who are homeless. It was amazing as over 260 people were supported by over 150 volunteers. I was blown away!
Early in the morning, I was simply supporting the staff in any way they needed my help. I then was asked to help one on one with intakes with individuals walking them through the various options for help.
That included getting them some food, helping them to talk with agencies and not for profits that dealt with everything from getting signed up for food stamps, employment options, educational opportunities, shelter or housing, setting up a resume, talking to veteran services, getting a driver’s license and more.
We also helped them get clothes, a snack pack, a bus pass, a shower and a haircut. It was quite an impressive process. It was good to see people get some real help.
It took some time helping them work through the process. I actually assisted three guys throughout my time. The first guy needed very little help. He knew the system and quickly went to the things he wanted to check out. He had been on the streets for quite some time and understood how to work.
The second guy seemed to be very courteous and well educated. He was not completely homeless and had a place to stay in a trailer. He however had some emotional issues and talked with someone that wasn’t there.
The third guy was Navajo and had a drinking problem. He actually was temporarily homeless due to a relationship problem with his ex-wife. He was simply passing through hoping to get to Flagstaff.
I learned today how similar and yet different people are. I realized that I could be where they are. We really are not that dissimilar. The day ripped the lid off my misconceptions about the homeless. Their situations are different than me but in reality they are just like me. These guys I worked with were just trying to move forward in life and find peace and joy. They have hopes and fears just like me.
I was thankful for the time to level the playing field. I was very humbled. I feel connected to mankind in a unique way. I hope I will look at the guy on the street corner a little closer next time. I might be surprised to see my face staring back at me!