But some of them are people with mental disturbances who can't get, or won't take, their medications. They are unable to function in society and may not have someone to assist them and support them, financially or emotionally. Some of them are veterans, still convinced that every helicopter that flies overhead is a threat. Some are victims, abused by people who should have loved them, clinging to the shadows of society because the hell they may find there is still better than the hell they ran from. Some are just people down on their luck. Others choose to live that way, finding freedom in the fringe of society.
Recently I learned that some shelters only offer free boarding for a limited time, like thirty days, and then the person must pay a rent to stay there. The man who approached Bear and I after dinner last night showed me an official looking piece of paper, stating "homeless shelter rent", festooned with signatures. Bear stated that we didn't carry cash, and we walked away. When we got to the car, I realized I had been clutching a box of leftovers the whole time. Tossing my purse in the SUV, I told him I was turning back to offer the man a meal, since we had no cash (and honestly, would we give cash to him anyway? He could have been lying... especially since I was pretty sure shelters didn't require rent at the time). He accepted the remainder of my prime rib dinner, which I really hadn't eaten much of at all. I realized the gentleman next to him appeared to also be homeless. I hoped they would share the meal. The only things they had were their bedraggled clothes, which looked slept in and threadbare, and two cups of water from WaWa, probably another bit of charity. On the way home, I thought I should have gone back in and asked for some cutlery for the men to eat the steak without chewing on it.
I kept thinking about the man who approached us all night, while I was reading Forests of the Heart and watching True Blood... his face kept swimming around in my mind. He approached Bear, not me. He couldn't look either of us in the eye. He shuffled his feet and his shoulders were stooped, shoulder blades pushed in, folding his chest into itself. His body language implied he was ashamed, his plea for something we were in a position to give him, but didn't. It broke my heart.
But it's still difficult to hand over money to the homeless. I don't want to help them achieve oblivion at the bottom of a bottle. I don't want to give them access to a dealer's wares, in which they will only find another oblivion. But I do want to help.
Today's Etsy dump is all related to the homeless. Some of the artists donate all proceeds to local homeless shelters. I am personally working on something to help raise awareness and maybe some support for the homeless in my own area. I hope this makes you think about those where you are. I realize these are hard times for many, but no matter what troubles we find ourselves in, chances are theirs are worse. And we can always help them out, be it in supporting a shelter, volunteering in a soup kitchen, or even simply spreading awareness. Perhaps some of you will help by purchasing one of the items below?
* Purchase a button bag, help provide mittens to the homeless.
* MisiZiibi has many greeting cards and other wares who's proceeds help the homeless, as well as some other causes.
Happy Monday! xo