8.09.2015

Homelessness

A response from article at Everyone Matters

Everyday we wake up and check our news feed on our expensive smart phones… we see what our friends have shared, and we “like” funny stories or photos or causes. Many people read the post from Everyone Matters about my friend Kai, who has been traveling around the country interviewing homeless people, gathering plans to make a homeless city, and lobbing congress for a homeless Bill Of Rights. He did this all with no money and little support. He succeeded because of perseverance, goals, great karma, and the help of countless of folks he met along the way.  

If you liked the post, and around 131 people did, what can you do to help? We all are sympathetic to the plight of the homeless, but we don’t think that we as individuals can do anything about it. That’s wrong, you can. Sure you can donate to a cause, like Homeless Kai's Adventures in Wanderland., but I’m sure you can also do things in your neighborhoods that will help the homeless where you live. Most of us don’t see the homeless. They are there right in front of us everyday but we don’t acknowledge them, we look right past them, they are invisible to us. 

Many people say, “Homeless people are all alcoholics, and if I give them money they will just spend it on alcohol, so I’m not going to give them any money”. This is a false paradigm in this country that all homeless are alcoholics. Consider that over 2.5 million children are homeless in the US, they don’t drink, they are just wondering where their next meal will come from. That’s not to say that many homeless are not alcoholics. Just like a cross section of the population, many people with homes are also alcoholics, pill addicts, or have other dependency issues. Many people have mental problems, are sick or are disabled as well. It’s the same with the homeless. Actually homelessness causes alcoholism more than the other way around. Yes, I’ve known many homeless people who are alcoholics, but consider this… Many of us look forward to that drink after work, we’ve had a hard day, we put up with all the problems and issues of our day, our boss was on our ass, we deserve to unwind and forget our problems at the end of the day and have that Scotch or glass of wine. Now imagine you are homeless. Everyday is a struggle for the basic necessities of life. Every moment you want to escape it all, forget your problems, this is why they escape to alcohol. I’m sure many of us would also. BTW, Kai is not an alcoholic, nor a drug user, he doesn’t even smoke pot.

This morning I was reading my Facebook notifications and saw a post where folks in my town said, “My water is turned off, does anyone else not have water?”  Many people replied that their water was also turned off… obviously you could hear in their posts that they were discouraged, upset and panicked. We feel that, even though we pay for it, water is a God given right and without it we cannot survive for long. We can’t make our coffee, wash dishes, take a shower, or take a dump. Now consider the homeless, everyday they are out of water, everyday they search for a basic cup of water, water to perhaps brush your teeth, water to drink, let alone take a shower. Imagine that everyday you have to walk at least a few miles to get your first cup of water in the morning…I wonder how my friends who are temporarily without water in my town would complain about that? Water is increasingly hard to find for homeless. Where would you go to find fresh water? All the sprinkler systems at golf courses and roadways, at least in my neighborhood, use reclaimed water to water the grass, and there are signs to warn the homeless this water is unsafe to drink. Luckily, where I live, there are public beach showers were you could fill up your water bottles and take a shower. I’m sure they don’t have this in NYC. Starbucks will give you free water, a cup to drink at least, but you can’t hang out at Starbucks all day long.

Last month I took a trip to LA, Long Beach to be exact, I keep my eyes open for the homeless in need, as others were busy ignoring their pleas (cardboard sign staying “I have a family, need water”), I made an effort to pull over and hand them some money. I did this everywhere I saw homeless people. I gave them all money, and you know what? Every time I did they said, “God bless you brother”. How many times do you hear that from a stranger? Here these folks are broke, homeless, hungry and destitute, but they tell me that God should bless Me! God should bless them instead. The feeling you get from hearing this is worth far more that the $5 or $10 you gave them. I implore you to open your eyes and actually “see” the homeless people in your community, find out what they need and give them the amount of money you can afford. They are people just like the rest of us.

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