Posted in General Interest

Warm Hearts Make the Cold More Bearable

The recent bitterly cold weather has gotten me thinking more lately about those stuck out in the elements, without a warm place to go. I wonder, as I am driving home from work at two o’clock in the morning, “How many of them will die tonight from the cold?”

I recently watched a documentary film called “Invisible Young“, which explores the homeless youth in Seattle, WA. I was surprised that some of the kids became homeless as young as age 13. 😦 The thing that struck me the most about everything else in the film is that when asked what was the hardest part of being homeless, so many of them replied, “Feeling invisible, like we don’t exist. No one meets your eyes when you’re homeless. You just feel like no one even sees you.”

The film, "Invisible Young" by Steven Keller
From https://www.facebook.com/pages/Invisible-Young/169954176370103?id=169954176370103&sk=photos_stream

Homelessness is a HUGE social problem that not many people want to discuss, let alone DO something about. A lot of people don’t know what they CAN do to help, so they do nothing. There are three stereotypical assumptions that most people make about the homeless that are identified in the film:

1) “They have people; That somewhere, there’s a decent family. Maybe there was a falling out, or this teen might have gotten in an argument, didn’t want to give in and so they left decent people.”

2) “They’re choosing this lifestyle.”

3) “They have the skills to go out and get started. I bet you have people, you have resources, you’re just being lazy.”

Sometimes, these things are the case. But not very often. More than likely, the homeless you see are there because of bad life circumstances, abusive situations they were trying to escape, no family or friends to help, job loss due to down-sizing and subsequent foreclosure on their homes…very, very few of them choose to be homeless.

Not many of them “have someone” or “have resources” that will help them. Not many of them start life on the streets addicted to drugs or alcohol, but those things are pervasive in our society’s underbelly and lots of them start using drugs or alcohol once they become homeless to try and escape the horrors of the everyday reality in which they live. The drugs or drinks make them numb to the despair, make it easier to just get through and survive another day.

Homeless Seeking Help
Image borrowed from http://michiganradio.org/post/bitter-cold-forcing-michigan-homeless-seek-shelter

Now that the Holiday Season is over, people forget about being charitable. They go back to their normal lives, their homes, their jobs. And sadly, the homeless go back to being invisible.

“The National Coaltion for the Homeless estimates that nearly 700 homeless people die of hypothermia each year. In early January, 4 homeless people died of exposure in the San Francisco Bay area, which was gripped by unusually cold temperatures. Last week a homeless man died of hypothermia in Chicago.” ~ Source

Image borrowed from Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/23/homeless-struggle-to-stay_n_812850.html
Image borrowed from Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/23/homeless-struggle-to-stay_n_812850.html

So what can you DO to help? Look for ways to help locally. Here are some links to get you started:

Homeless Shelter Directory to help you locate resources in your area

Sparesomechange.com will help you find Groups and Organizations that help needy people/those in trouble

Justgive.org lists 35 ways you can help the homeless today!

Contact the National Alliance to end Homelessness to find out more about how you can get involved and make a difference.

* Collect some blankets, coats, buy some hand warmer pads to distribute to those homeless people you can locate.

* Make a big pot of chicken soup or chili and hand it out.

* Donate to local churches or shelters who need extra food for their pantries.

Remember…“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” ~ Ian MacLaren

Warm hearts, like mine, like yours…won’t end the homeless problem right away, but maybe it will make the cold a little more bearable for them.

© 2014, essay, Corina Ravenscraft, illustration, Ursula Vernon All rights reserved

effecd1bf289d498b5944e37d8f4ee6fAbout dragonkatet Regarding the blog name, Dragon’s Dreams ~ The name comes from my love-affairs with both Dragons and Dreams (capital Ds). It’s another extension of who I am, a facet for expression; a place and way to reach other like-minded, creative individuals. I post a lot of poetry and images that fascinate or move me, because that’s my favorite way to view the world. I post about things important to me and the world in which we live, try to champion extra important political, societal and environmental issues, etc. Sometimes I wax philosophical, because it’s also a place where I always seem to learn about myself, too, by interacting with some of the brightest minds, souls and hearts out there. It’s all about ‘connection(s)’ and I don’t mean “net-working” with people for personal gain, but rather, the expansion of the 4 L’s: Light, Love, Laughter, Learning.

Author:

Regarding the blog name, Dragon’s Dreams ~ The name comes from my love-affairs with both Dragons and Dreams (capital Ds). It’s another extension of who I am, a facet for expression; a place and way to reach other like-minded, creative individuals. I post poetry and images that fascinate or move me, because that’s my favorite way to view the world. I post about things important to me and the world in which we live, try to champion extra important political, societal and environmental issues, etc. Sometimes I wax philosophical, because it’s also a place where I always seem to learn about myself, too, by interacting with some of the brightest minds, souls and hearts out there. It’s all about ‘connection(s)’ and I don’t mean “net-working” with people for personal gain, but rather, the expansion of the 4 L’s: Light, Love, Laughter, Learning.

7 thoughts on “Warm Hearts Make the Cold More Bearable

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting. It really is an unnecessary tragedy. I’m thankful there are still enough people in the world with compassion to help them. You’re so right – it could happen to any of us!

      Like

  1. “Seeing” the homeless and other people in trouble seems to be an issue in our society. We will donate to the organizations that serve – and often generously – but we don’t want to give directly from our hand, which is the most loving thing to do.

    Homelessness is rarely a choice except in the very few cases where a person for some reason decides to just drop out … and there’s always a sad story behind that and the decision should be respected. There are more children and families homeless in the U.S. than ever before in our history. Isn’t it a travesty that we have buildings and houses sitting empty, locked and boarded, guarded, while people starve and freeze on the street? And isn’t it a travesty that in many cities it is against the law to take youth in and give them a meal and bed for the night? (There’s good reason behind that kind of legislation, but shame on us that such had to be written into law to begin with.)

    When youth age out of Foster Youth programs, there is insufficient assistance available in most states to help them transition into adult life. There is no city in the U.S. that has enough beds for former foster youth. At one point forty-percent of the adult prison population were former foster youth. I don’t have updated stats.

    I think that people are afraid that if they talk with a homeless person or give them something, that person will latch onto them. This is no more true than it is with people in others situations, perhaps less so. Always stop, see, and give … even just a small amount of money, a blanket, a meal … and always without condescension and with love and a smile and a bit of conversation. We can keep extra things in the back of our cars that we are planning to take to Salvation Army and give them instead directly where they are needed.

    Boycott stores that don’t allow begging out front. Buy a homeless person a cup of coffee and roll when you get your own. Our homeless are still our neighbors. They may be living rough but they are still part of our communities.

    These things among others and the ones you’ve posted all work, Corina – not only in the sense of practicality and kindness to mitigate physical and emotional suffering – but in the sense of acknowledging each person’s humanity and worthyness.

    Thank you for a fine post and an important reminder.

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    1. Thanks for reading, reblogging and for such a thoughtful comment, Jamie. The subject is one of those that really hurts my heart, and if I could fix it for all of them, I would. It’s my hope that maybe, just maybe, by making more people aware that hey, these are human beings, with thoughts, dreams and feelings just like you and me, maybe someone will remember the next time they see a homeless person…and can do something, even if it’s small, to help them. Thanks again, Jamie!

      Like

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