Filed under: J840 Week 6, Justice + Outreach, Society + Media | Tags: homelessness, Lawrence Community Shelter, stereotypes, University of Kansas
As an undergraduate student at KU, I remember fearing the homeless as I walked on Mass Street at night. Now as a graduate student at KU, I have a whole new perspective as I walk down the same street.
I still remember one instance in particular. It was around 10 p.m. and I was walking to Buffalo Wild Wings to meet some friends out. As I walked by an alley, a group of homeless men stopped me and asked if they could use my cell phone. I was alone, it was dark out and I was a little frightened by their request, so I didn’t say anything and walked on. As I continued down the sidewalk, they started to yell at me, telling me how rude I was and all they wanted was to use my cell phone for a few seconds.
Now that I’ve had this experience with the Lawrence Community Shelter, I wonder that if I went back in time, would I have stopped? Would I have allowed them to use my phone? At the very least, I know I would have at least stopped for a second to talk to them. I could have referred them to use the phone at the LCS if I still didn’t feel comfortable giving them my phone to use. At the very least, I know I would not have completely ignored them like I did that night.
Being able to talk to guests at the LCS really broke down some of my own stereotypes I had about the homeless. Talking with one family at the shelter really made me rethink the issues of homelessness. The situation of circumstance is one thing I never thought of when it came to being homeless.
My stereotypes about homeless shelters were also broken down. While the LCS provides food and shelter for the homeless, it also provides sustainable programs to help people towards a life of self-sufficiency. This very much aligns with the old proverb, “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime.” The programs at the LCS help the homeless to find long-term solutions to become self-sufficient.
The opportunity to work on a project for the LCS was a very eye-opening experience for me. This project pushed me out of my usually introverted self to talk to people, learn about the situations others were going through and appreciate that places like the LCS exist if I were ever in a similar situation one day.
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