Bringing Awareness to the Homeless


Being homeless should not be the equivalent as being classified as untouchable. The homeless shouldn’t automatically be labeled as lazy, worthless, or repulsive. To interact with the homeless doesn’t grant you the privilege of being disrespectful. You don’t degrade people that are already going through a difficult time in their lives with scorn or ridicule. 

I have personally met plenty of homeless people within my short lifetime. My mother was a motivational speaker for the homeless for awhile when I was younger, and beyond that there have been multiple occasions when we too were homeless. Of course, by first glance, many people would not have even considered that I was homeless. I was well dressed, well spoken, and polite. I got stellar grades within my class, and was easy to get along with. 

The same went for my mother, a lovely and caring woman who seemed keen on helping others and was incredibly smart and always impeccably dressed. She was known for being fashionable and had a reputation as a hard worker. Yet, being a single mother with a sickly child made paying bills challenging.

 Life happens, my mother fell on difficult times. It’s not that uncommon of a situation.

However, that is precisely the problem. There is this disgusting misconception among people that the homeless are a different breed of people with imaginary reasons as to why they are in their currant situation. People seem to think that the homeless don’t care about how they are perceived by other people or for their well being and success. People seem to think that people are on the streets with an open hand only in search for an easy buck. "On a single night in January 2014, 578,424 people were experiencing homelessness — meaning they were sleeping outside or in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program” (http://endhomelessness.org) 

Are you aware of the amount of people that you encounter on a daily basis that are homeless? Not everyone is going to dress in ratty clothes, and plenty of the homeless are well spoken, incredibly intelligent and immensely educated. In fact, I have met plenty of homeless individuals that have college degrees, as well as jobs!  To be homeless is not usually a matter of choice, it is a result of hardship. 

 To get out of a state of homelessness is a process. You do not know a person’s situation.

 I have met women that were in abusive relationships and as a result ran away to only find that they have no where to go and no one to turn to. I have met young adults that were going through terrible home situations and were either forced to leave for their own safety, or couldn’t take their home life anymore. I have met veterans, you know, the guys that have fought for this great country of the United States of America and for every grain of freedom and opportunity that is given to us, that couldn’t find jobs. I have met people that lost their jobs and were unable to find another in time to save their homes.

Everyone is different. And everyone has a story. 

And you know what? They are usually the kindest people I have ever met. If you would just ask, you would be surprised as to why some people have fallen to such a level of poverty and financial grief. People don’t usually turn to live on the streets because they want to. 

Within my recent trip to Vegas, I was amazed by the spectacle of flashing and dazzling lights and glamour. However, within this moment of awe, I was also baffled by the vast amount of homeless that sat huddled close together by the doors of beautiful and lavish establishments. People walked by without so much as a glance. 
 The issue of homelessness will not disappear just because you refuse to address it. The homeless will not retire because you choose to not look them in the eye.

Most people aren’t proud of their situation living on the streets. They are literally in a state of financial crisis. For this reason, I tried to give cash or food whenever I could. And during my trip, I was astounded by an incredible experience with a gentleman. With my good intention of helping someone, my aid was refused.

The story took place towards the end of breakfast one morning. My roommate Caitlin and I were on the patio soaking in the heavenly rays of rich sunshine during our meal. As we were finishing up we were surprised to suddenly see a huddled figure over a trash can. This individual was evaluating the contents within the garbage in search of food to eat and soda cans to cash in. In this moment I ran over to the man and offered him a meal and money. 

And you know what? He refused. He told me he was fine, and that he was figuring things out. He told me to help the kids and people that were sitting down with their hands outstretched. He explained that those people needed that sort of kindness, that they needed some hope, and that he was okay. He thanked me, gave me a firm handshake, made a quirky joke so as to make me smile, and went on his merry way. 

Does that sound like someone that cares only for your money to drink it away? Does that sound like some terrible individual out to mug you or swindle you out of your hard earned cash? 

Sure, there are people out there that try to abuse their position. There are people out there that will try and take whatever they can get and not take responsibility of their situation. Yet, this can be said for a variety of people in every walk of life. To take the actions of a few and degrade and ostracize the rest is incredibly cruel and inhumane.

 Recognize the people on the streets. Love your fellow sister and brother. Do not criticize for what you do not understand. And do not dehumanize in sake of making yourself feel better of what you encounter. The homeless are people, not vermin.

Be kind to people. All people. That includes the homeless. 


-Jazz