Filed under: J840 Week 6 | Tags: Community, J840, Lawrence, understanding, University of Kansas
I was 10 years old when I got my first glimpse of the mixed opinions of how to help the homeless. I was in Washington D.C. with my parents and brother visiting family living there. We were walking toward a Metro station when we encountered a homeless man, asking for change.
My cousin reached into her pocket for change, threw it at the man and kept walking without looking him in the eye.
“He’s just going to spend it on alcohol,” my dad replied.
Talk about a contradiction. Here was my cousin who I looked up to, giving him money. My dad, on the other hand, didn’t want to give him money on the street.
Later, my dad explained to me that he prefers to donate money to homeless shelters and programs that help homeless individuals get back on their feet. To him, donating money to a program would make more of a difference than handing out a dollar or two.
Nearly two decades later, I still feel conflicted by this interaction. In some ways, they are both right and both wrong. My dad is right about the importance of giving to programs that help people get back on their feet. My cousin was right to want to give what she could at the time, although not right about how she treated the man in her lack of eye contact.
We are all human beings and co-residents of our community. We need to look out for each other. We need to help each other thrive or at the very least survive. I personally believe that if you have change in your pocket and can help someone who might need extra money for lunch, it’s ok to help.
Visiting the shelter helped me reconcile this disconnect from my past. It reconfirmed my beliefs that there are many ways to help others and make a difference in the life of other people. It also showed me what a need there is in our own community for programs like this. As fellow human beings we need to take care of each other. There is no better way to learn this or in my case to confirm this belief than by visiting a program like the Lawrence Community Shelter.
The clients at the Lawrence Community Shelter are real human beings going through a tough time. They need our respect, our understanding and our help. It was an honor to be a part of this experience and I hope that our group helped to make a difference, even if it was in a small way.
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