Yes, there is a stigma and stereotype surrounding homelessness that is unfair and unwarranted.
The homeless aren’t lazy, dirty or dangerous. These thoughts are far from the truth. I witness it firsthand every single day through conversations and interactions with guests experiencing homelessness or housing instability.
Each person that walks through the doors is somebody: a father, mother, son, daughter, brother or sister to somebody. That matters, as does their dignity and inherent worth.
The journey to becoming housed, and maybe employed again, is unique for each individual and very difficult. Some of the barriers are systemic and some are self-induced.
No matter the challenges, there are always rays of hope and light that shine bright inside the walls of shelter, Micah Center and Wellspring. I see the disappointments and struggles daily, but the most exciting parts are the moments that seem insignificant.
Like what may seem like a simple bowl of soup.
It’s more than a bowl of soup. It was made with love and passion.
It was delicious, filling and gave me a sense of pride to enjoy a bowl of soup made by a guest. The soup was crafted by a male guest who immigrated to the United States from Puerto Rico over two decades ago. We talk often about his journey as a homeless person. What it was like in Puerto Rico growing up, how his mother taught him to cook and other random things going on in life.
I enjoy the conversations because it’s those moments that have meaning. It may be just a bowl of soup, but there is so much more to it than a few bites to fill the belly at the noon hour.
It’s the connection with a guest who is getting overlooked by the community. He gets looked at differently because he is homeless and treated unfairly because of his ethnicity. There are so many skills and talents of the homeless that need to be learned and understood. Whether it is cooking, art, music or computer skills; these talents matter to them and should matter to the community.
I encourage you to have a conversation with someone struggling, whether they are homeless or not. Maybe you will learn of a hidden skill or talent that could brighten their day through a simple exchange of words.
Heck, maybe you will enjoy a delicious bowl of soup during that conversation.
Director of Community Engagement