I’m going to take a week off from sharing my Bible study, I’m about a half a week behind anyway. This week I want to share something with you about the homeless.
‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;
In the county that I live in, there is estimated 400 homeless people. Most of them live toward the west end of the county, from what I’m to understand.
I know next to nothing about the homeless community. I have never been homeless. When I was a kid my parents would rent a house in the winter and camp in the summer. That was their way of saving money, and they enjoy camping. I was too little I don’t remember that. I guess that would qualify.
I had heard several years ago about the number of homeless in our county and it’s always stuck with me. I always wondered what could I do, what could be done?
In my small town there’s a few empty buildings, unfortunately they’re run down. They are for sale though. I wondered could one of those be used for shelter?
The first part of January something came across my Facebook feed. I don’t know why. It wasn’t a page that I had “Liked”. Anyway it was about a shelter that opened up in a church when the temperatures dropped below 35°. They were in danger of losing their building, because they needed a certain amount of money to open up every month. And they didn’t have enough for the month of January. I did a little reading on their website saw that I could donate through PayPal, so I donated what I could to their cause.
It didn’t take long before they had the money they needed, but then something else happened. They lost their building anyway, because of complaints from the neighborhood regarding the homeless people, and needles being found because of the addicts.
Within a week though they were able to find a place where they could open up a “a storefront”.
The storefront is a place where the homeless can go for something to eat, a cup of coffee, pick up a change of clothes, have their laundry done or pick up any other necessities they may need. A place to sit, get warm and dry.
As I kept an eye on the happenings of this organization through Facebook my heart was continually being tugged.
My Trip to the Storefront
I gone through some of our belongings and found some things that could be taken as a donation to the store front. So a couple weeks ago, I put those things in my car and headed to town.
To be honest I was afraid. I have never been involved with the homeless community and I did not know what to expect. I was completely ignorant and I was afraid it would show. I stressed myself out so much I even gave myself a migraine. It lasted for two days.
When I reach the location I just kept telling myself, “I’m just dropping stuff off, I’m just dropping stuff off”. But when I got in there I was greeted by friendly faces of the volunteers and I felt comfortable enough to ask what I would consider stupid questions. They weren’t stupid they were just ignorant questions, because I knew nothing of the homeless community.
My questions were answered enthusiastically by each volunteer. A few homeless people wandered in for a cup of coffee here and there, ate a hotdog or had a doughnut. They picked out a few items of clothing and went on their way.
There were two ladies that had come in and sat down. One was extremely chatty, she was young and had said something about how being on the river was the last place she wanted to be, she was a college graduate and here she is homeless.
I walked over to her and asked her what her college degree was, she told me she had a business degree. She said she had worked in her field for about four months as a temporary position and she’d been homeless for about six months.
She talked a lot, and I listen then asked a few questions here and there. The other gal with her said that she was homeless as well. She had been recently kicked out by her boyfriend and had no place to go. So she too was sleeping on the river in a tent.
Before I knew it I’d been there for 2 1/2 hours and I learned a whole lot more than I knew before.
What I Learned
I learned that there are a couple hundred people living in tents down by the river. Some of them are Native American, some of them our heroin addict’s and some of them are just struggling people trying to make a living, but can’t afford to rent a place. Several of these homeless people have jobs, or there in the system trying to get jobs.
I learned that most of the time if you see a panhandler on the corner if they don’t have anything with them there most likely not homeless.
I learned that many of them do not want to be there. They are cold, they are wet, and dirty. I learned that there are places at the state parks where they can shower, but they don’t have the money to pay for the shower.
I learned that the homeless community in this area help each other. They will give you the shirt off their back. They’d probably take it too, from what I hear. But if you make five sack lunches, give them to one homeless person and they will share the other four with their friends.
I learned that there are some homeless people that want to be homeless. They are not trying to get off the system, they’re not trying to get off the property that does not belong to them. I don’t know the percentage. I guess it doesn’t really matter.
I was struck by the matter-of-fact honesty by these two women that I talked with and my heart went out to them.
As I’ve kept an eye on these Facebook pages that I’m on now, I’ve come across a few comments that are brutally honest and heartbreaking all at the same time. Here are couple of them:
“I was homeless for almost a year here in tent city working my butt off yet still being criticized daily from the citizens … from people that assumed I was a certain kind of person. I have been in recovery for years now. BUT let me tell you, after losing everything because of bad wiring and living in a tent in wet blankets and people being more cruel than I have ever seen, working full time, trying to find a place without cockroaches that I could afford, Etc. So much BS from so many people, it was hard sometimes to keep my sobriety! Words hurt, they hurt worse than punches. Word stick with you forever ..”
“I’m just tired of people trying to say how things can’t be so bad, or can’t be that way just because they know people. Very frustrating! I have a place to live now, I can shower now. But from September up until 2 weeks ago I couldn’t. I’m not on drugs, I don’t drink, I don’t even smoke anything! But there’s ALWAYS gotta be someone who lives in a house and drives a pretty car that knows more than the homeless person does, because why? We’re dirty? We lie? We’re on drugs? We’re drunks? We’re crazy? You know, maybe something is gone on that someone needs to fix and it’s not the dirty homeless woman needing a shower either.”
What strikes me most about these 2 comments is the cruelty of others.
The bibles says to love your neighbor as yourself. This isn’t just the person in the cozy home next door.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.
And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
It breaks my heart that people are so mean. I even heard stories of people driving by the tents and tossing large rocks at the sleeping people. How awful.
Right now the organization, Revival of Grays Harbor is in the process of trying to obtain a plot of land and/or a building to move the tent city from the river. You can read about their cause, who they are and their goals on their website. If you’d like to help, please jump on over to Revival of Grays Harbor and donate via paypal to this most noble and God honoring cause.