J500 Media and the Environment

Reflections on a five-minute conversation, 14 years later by paulineah
July 26, 2009, 10:06 am
Filed under: J840 Week 6 | Tags: , , , , ,

Prior to my experience at the Lawrence Community Shelter (LCS), I had limited exposure to the homeless population. However, I can recall one experience I had when I was 12 years old.

Her name was Kandi. My grandmother had met her one evening when she was walking to the symphony hall. Kandi had been sleeping on the streets of San Francisco for a few years. One week, while visiting my grandmother, she took me to the symphony. Along the way, she introduced me to Kandi. In our brief five-minute conversation, Kandi asked me questions about school, what Kansas was like and how my trip was going. We then gave her some money and continued on our way to Davies Hall.

Later, my grandmother told me that Kandi had an abusive boyfriend, which explained the dark marks on her cheeks. She was also addicted to drugs.

14 years later, I still think of Kandi. What is she doing now? Is she even alive? I don’t know, but when I think about our short conversation, I am still confused. Why was she so interested in me? Clearly, she had a lot of more important things on her mind.

After visiting the shelter and talking with LCS staff, I think I understand. When you give to the LCS shelter, you’re not just limited to materials or money. Sometimes, just giving your time and talking with a homeless person is enough. Kandi was happy to be having a normal conversation with somebody. Just as important as the money we were giving her, we were engaging in conversation with her.

Drop by the Lawrence Community Shelter (credit: Google Images)

Stop by the Lawrence Community Shelter (credit: Google Images)


The clients at the Lawrence Community Shelter are no different. These are people with an amazing will to survive. They desire all of the comforts that I take for granted. In retrospect, I’m sure there was a lot more we could have done to help Kandi. But I am happy that my grandmother and I were able to give her something, even if it lasted only five minutes.

-Pauline H


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