Saturday, January 16, 2010

Homeless Faces

On my way into work or home, I pass three Homeless Shelters. I also pass several faceless souls, sleeping on the sidewalks, under bridges, and makeshift shelters. They cover their faces as they sleep. Where do they come from?
I worry about our many homeless citizens. With the growing economy problems, we are seeing a rapid increase of homeless people. Downtown Indy we have always seen the homeless men, but recently the number of women have increased in our area.
It is cold here in Indianapolis during this time of year. I can't even imagine facing this cold without a warm home. We have four season here. With that, we get rainy Springs, hot & humid Summers, colorful but crisp Autumns, sometimes with cold rains, and our Winters are very cold, windy and snowy.
The line is long in the morning, people waiting to get into Horizon Homeless Shelter. Hoping for a warm meal, a place to sit down and get warm, an encouraging word or perhaps some hope. At this homeless shelter I rarely see children. It's hard to tell the men from the women, as the stand in the cold covering up. As I get closer to this shelter, I see several people walking over, to stand in the line. Some are carrying coffee from the Hardee's restaurant across the street. I get stopped at the light here every day. I see these bodies, but they never look up at me.
During the day, downtown is a different story. I see at least three, sometimes several more, on the same corners. There is the colorful musician playing his horn, by the very elite Conrad Hotel. It's a busy corner leading to the Mall, Bank and more. He seems to fare well there. Across from him is a friendly fellow always asking for change. He shares this corner with a quiet elderly man that has a stuffed animal Puppy on a leash. He sits there with his sign & jar for change. Closer to my office is a woman that doesn't seem to be able to make up her mind what her story is. She alternates signs from "Homeless Mother", to "Homeless and Deaf". She is the only one that irritates me as she is very much not deaf, and I have yet to see her children. By my Bank is the man shaking his change box telling everyone Bless you & have a good day. Roaming around, there is a very scary mean guy that seems to be high or just very chemically imbalanced, all the time. He will follow, intimidate & spit at you. NEVER make eye contact with this fellow! There is the large man that seems to be sleeping off a rough night every morning, this one actually makes me tear up and pray for him daily. The old man with yellow eyes and the longest dirtiest dreadlocks I have ever seen, just walking through the city. Then the poor guy that smells of urine, near our Steak & Shake.
I pray for them all.
I don't give them money. I can't. Although I am very much in a better situation than they, I don't have any spare currently. Also, unfortunately, it's much like the stray animal that you start to feed, they then expect it, next thing you know you have a new family member. Sergio has put up with a lot of stray animals that I have brought home, I am sure he'd put his foot down if I tried to bring home a stray person.
I also am that person that constantly give to the person standing at the intersections or store fronts. It is easier to give to them. It is not as daily nor do they really see me.
I know in my heart that it does not matter how they got there. Some have truly ran a very rough life. Some may have started as a run-away. Some (several) have mental disabilities and without proper health care can not help themselves. Oh, and I am not forgetting the other. The ones that are refereed to as the BUM, the DRUNK, or the DRUGGY. They are there too. But, regardless, they are in a worst situation than I.
Who am I to pass judgement?
I am no better, just more fortunate.


A human kind of human said...

Hi Janis, here in South Africa, homelessness (does the word actually exists?) has become a way of life. Of course we do not have the extreme weather conditions you have there, but still it gets very cold in winter, too cold to sleep under a bridge. What I always wonder is where their families are. Surely if you have a brother, sister, aunt or whatever, who falls into dire straights, you help them. Then one day a friend who works with these people on a day to day basis explained that most of these people have burned their bridges where family is concerned. Families help for a long time but there always comes a time when even the family realises that the person does not really want to be helped and even they cut the ties. How sad is that and I often wonder where the blame then lays? Homeless is sad, but sometimes it is the preferred lifestyle! What really gets to me though is the homeless children!

Fire Byrd said...

As you know my youngest has been in trouble recently but there is no way I'd not have him home. But he has several friends who have not gotten into trouble, as he has. whose parents have kicked them out. Usually as the new steparent doesn't like the adolescent male so out they go. My house is always open to my sons friends whether for a meal or a bed. I won't let anyone he knows sleep in their car when I have space.
But I agree with you we cannot give to everyone who needs help, we can only do what we can do and for all that is different. We just have to be okay with ourselves as to what we do. And that is enough for us.

Ziongirl said...

I lived in Vegas for several years back in the 7o's and 80's where there are alot of homeless and mostly due to the warm weather. There are many shelters there and I understand with the economy it is only going to get worse. My daughter still lives there and as you know I visit often. We also cannot not give them money so I try to serve in other ways. Last summer we actually had a homeless man that threw his sign at my vehicle. We were shocked....I'm guessing there is much new behavior that can be expected. I always remember them in my prayers.

Reya Mellicker said...

I don't give them money either. I'm unclear that it would help anything.

Someone wrote a book about the homeless some years ago in which she explains how disoriented people get when they never, not EVER, get a good night's sleep. She lived with the homeless for a year or something and at the end she was a total basket case. People who have some sort of problem just get so much worse when they have nowhere to live.

When I see them here in DC, I want to gather them together and do a mass soul retrieval.

Linda said...

Thank you for sharing this thought-provoking piece, Janis.

I agree it's troubling, how could one not agree with that, though at the same time my husband and I have often thought that we, as a society, need to get back to the basics of caring for our families and the personal responsibility that goes along with that. For instance, how many people are so caught up in their own business, or due to some misunderstanding, they no longer personally care for their aging parents, a brother or sister who has fallen on hard times, etc.

In our family, we've taken a more "old-fashioned" point of view, perhaps a more traditional view - that we should be caring for each other. I have a sister who has continually had hard times, yet she knows that she will never be homeless because no matter what - we will take her in.

My parents live next door to us and I will never put them in a home, or otherwise desert them, because they are my parents - they are not anyone elses responsibility - definitely not the government's responsibility - No, we view them as OUR responsibility and will care for them all the days of our lives.

We are not rich - you've known me for a while here in the blogland :) - we live in a small 1400 square foot ranch, modest in size and price. Yet, we do what it takes to provide for our family. To me, that's what life is all about.

Just a slightly different perspective on a troubling, sad subject.

Love & Blessings,

janis said...

Thank you all for your comments. I am touched and feel the need to go a little deeper. Instead of responding here, I will post a part two.

Anonymous said...

I always hurt when I see pain in others but there is a special pain when it is the kids. I used to do some volunteer work for the Day Spring Center this is where you will see the kids. Young, hungry and scared it hurts to see them in a food line it is hard to turn away because they have done nothing wrong to be in this situation yet they are there. The bible says there will always be poor. Giving change to someone fixes nothing but spend a few minuets looking at the kids and I am always lost and hurt.