Filed under: Society + Media | Tags: acknowledgement, David Pirtle, homelessness, Lawrence Community Shelter, Mother Teresa, service learning
Who’s on my list of heroes? The staff and volunteers of the Lawrence Community Shelter. Day after day they give the very best of themselves to those who are out of options. Working with LCS reminded me how rewarding it is to help those who have so little. It also reminded me that life doesn’t play favorites. Anyone can be out of a job, out of money and out of luck. There’s so much need right under our noses in Johnson and Douglas counties. There are so many who are invisible and so few people who see and help them. It was a great feeling to put not only my mind, but also my heart into helping LCS.
David Pirtle really hit my conscience when he said, “you are what society names you.” In his case it was “trash,” “bum” and “homeless.” He hadn’t been called by his own name in two years. I can’t imagine going through life completely disregarded. There’s no greater feeling of hopelessness than loneliness.
Every morning I pass at least three homeless men on my way to work. They stand on the corner of I-35 and West Pennway. I always felt guilty as I passed by, avoiding eye contact. I pretended they didn’t exist.
I sit here reflecting on Mother Teresa and her selfless leadership in helping the “untouchables” of Calcutta. She said, “being unwanted, unloved, uncared for and forgotten by everybody is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.”
I now make eye contact with the homeless men on my way to work, throwing in a little grin now and then. I’m working my way up to a “hello.” I want to offer them a sign of acknowledgement, an affirmation that they exist. We all deserve that dignity.
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