Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Reach Out and Touch....

Remember the most popular football player in high school?  Charismatic, good looking, cool clothes.  He had a lot going for him, he was smart, had a lot of friends; everyone wanted to be him or be seen with him. What if you found out he was homeless?  Imagine an adorable baby boy, full of excitement, cooing and babbling, playing with a toy.  Think about a little girl, dressed like a princess, full of excitement, playing with a doll, without a care in the world.  What if you found out these young children were homeless?  Typically when we think of the homeless, we think of the old man standing at the stop light, with a sign that says "will work for food" or "homeless veteran, need work"  We think of beggars.  We think, why don't "you" get a job.   We often see homeless people digging through trash cans, dirty, unkempt, with torn and tattered clothes.  In reality, these are all images of the homeless, but what we do not see, what we can not imagine, or maybe do not realize is that there is a large population of homeless that are under the age of 16.  Yes.  Children under 16 are homeless at an alarmingly increasing rate.        1 in 45 children are homeless.  The economy as well as other factors has struck a devastating blow to families across America, and for a variety of reasons, families are ending up homeless.  Some children remain with their parents, other children are on the street.  

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to serve at a local homeless shelter (it is a residency facility).   I knew that there might be families there, but the reality is, it didn't HIT me, until I actually saw the children.  I talked and interacted with an Ethan - 11 years old,  Juliana - 4 years old and Jordan - her 2 year old brother.   (Yes, the 2 year talked)   I was shocked that Ethan, also has an 8 year old sister, a 4 year old brother and a 8 month old baby brother (Leslie, their mother was there also).  ALL were living in the shelter, Homeless.  Stop for a moment, and imagine, seeing a family, with children, in a shelter.  No permanent home, no privacy - except the room they stay in, with thin walls, they share a bathroom/shower area, a kitchen and common areas.  Imagine being a middle school boy, with no home; he can't have "his boys" come over to play video games, because, he doesn't have a home, or access to video games.  He can not go next door to see if his buddy can play ball, because, he is homeless.   Think about a teenage girl that wants to have a sleepover for her birthday, but can not, because she lives in a homeless shelter.

The mothers looked just like me.  Loving their children, nurturing, laughing and playing.  The mothers didn't look "homeless".  But they were.  Candace, drives her daughter Juliana across town so that her daughter can get a good pre-school education.  Not any different that what I've done for mine.   Leslie said she has been praying for Ethan, with regards to him and school.  Not any different that what I do for mine.  One common thread--we are all human.    A kind word, a gesture, an extended hand can really make a difference....One thing that really made me go hmmmmmm, was, any of us, can end up in a situation, and be where these families are.   At any time, we all might need help, significant help.  Do not look at others who have fallen on hard times and judge or make assumptions.  Instead, look and them and say, what can I do to make a difference.   I encourage and challenge everyone to look around you.  Look for someone to help.  Look for an organization to volunteer your time.   Take your children - teach them about community service and a world outside of their comfortable bubble.   Look at ways to make someones life and situation better.  Help does not  have to be financial (although if you have it--give it).  Help can be a prayer, it can be spending time with someone, running errands, or a listening ear.   It could be cooking a meal for someone that is elderly or just had surgery.   The possibilities are endless.  In 1970, Diana Ross released a very thought provoking song--Reach Out and Touch.  Take a moment and Google the lyrics.  The words still ring true 42 years later....Reach Out and Touch, Somebody's hand, Make this world a better place, If you can.....       The names have been changed to protect their privacy.

1 comment:

m.t. leftwich said...

Myles and Adin "Reached Out and Touched" the women who cared for
their great grandfather, during
his latter years, by making her a "love blanket". This woman is suffering with Leukemia and is in and out of the hospital. Additionally, Adin decided to make
a pillow to match the pulple and red blanket. The choice of fabric was red, purple and yellow-with puzzle peices as the design. Wow, Adin! Good job, guys! You made
Maggie's day!!!!