On Monday mornings, we take water and sandwiches to the homeless. I knew this day would be different because there had been a fire at one of the encampments the day before. As we drove next to the encampment, you could see how much the fire claimed. Half of the homes were gone. The residents were still sorting through the soot and ashes trying to find anything that belonged to them. One by one, they came to the truck. Each one had their own story to tell. "I ran into my house to save my dog. I ran to the flames, not away." "I kept trying to find my friend. I used to fight with her but I never wanted her to get hurt." One man said, "I lost everything. I had a little business fixing bikes. Now the bikes are gone and even my tools are ruined." They said that last year when there was a fire, the Red Cross came. They didn't come this time. The residents were all thankful that no one died. They were sad for the ones that lost their houses. They thanked us for the sandwiches and water. They kept saying, "Thank you. God bless you." They asked for nothing.
November - Homeless Awareness Month
Have you heard these words, words that are used to describe homeless people? Descriptors like "lazy", "drug addicts", "crazy", "wino", "beggar", "criminals", "derelicts"; "drunkard"? I am sure you could add a few more to this list. Judgments made every day of those less fortunate who populate our streets. These words fall into the category which we call "STEREOTYPES". Accepting and using these words without a challenge, without looking for the facts, without getting to know a homeless person is a worthless action and a waste of time. Remember what Matthew and Luke, in their writings about the Beatitudes, tell us about being judgmental. Do not judge and condemn others, lest we be judged as we judge others.