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Switch to Forum Live View Our Homeless On Christmas And New Year's
6 years ago  ::  Dec 26, 2007 - 5:36PM #41
BirdTattoo
Posts: 69
Mine is relatively small; as I've said, our capacity is twenty-four.  We're not in the business of warehousing people, and our focus is on quality rather than quantity.  A major advantage of a small shelter is that we become a real community.  Each one of us on the staff is able to get to know all our guests personally, and the same people tend to stay with us all season.  (We're a seasonal shelter, operating November-April.)  Some people get permanent housing, and others move on for other reasons, and new folks join the community every week or so.

Holidays, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas, I think, tend to be a set-up for people whose lives aren't going well.  This year, we have parents who've lost custody of their children, or who for various reasons have lost contact with them.  We have two people who are grieving for their mothers who have passed away in the last year.  Depression, addiction, loved ones in jail, domestic abuse, and on and on--the personal challenges seem insurmountable.  On top of all that, everyone is desperately poor at a time when our culture is at its most materialistic.  Nobody wants to be in a homeless shelter on Christmas.

Except me.  Honestly, there was no place I wanted to be more on Christmas day.  Our artificial tree glowed with lights, and several people had helped to drape electric lights and decorations around the main room. The day was thoroughly exhausting, but looking back after a good night's rest, I believe it was my happiest Christmas since my children were small.  Just as it was then, it was easy to see how to meet needs and grant desires.  The man who loves crossword puzzles got a book of them and a set of erasable pens from an anonymous "Santa"; the man who loves hard candies got a bagful; the man who loves movies got a ride to a city housing project where someone was waiting to give him a boxful of videos, which he lovingly donated to the shelter.  A young woman,who'd been homeless for one day, got a warm bed, a chance to unload, and a tube of Fixodent, which was a major concern because of "self-esteem" issues around being in her thirties and wearing dentures.  Several people gave me gifts, and even though I suspect one or two of them may have "fallen off the back of a truck," I accepted them in the spirit in which they were given.

Hugs were plentiful.  Nobody in my shelter has body lice, because all guests are required to shower regularly, and I don't know how I'd respond to the challenge of hugging somebody with body lice.  I'd like to think that my humanity would overcome my fear of contamination, but I don't know.

Despite the fact that my shelter is housed in a church basement, proselytizing is forbidden.  We were founded by a Jewish man and his Christian wife, who felt strongly that no one should be subjected to a sermon before they're given food and a bed.  Last night, our case manager, who is new this year, insisted on reading the passage from Luke about the birth of Jesus before we had dinner.  As  shelter manager, I was a bit nervous about what his agenda might be.  I needn't have worried.  Baby Jesus was born to parents who were refused shelter.  He was born homeless.  "Nuff said.  You could have hear a pin drop.  All people said afterwords was "amen."

If i could impress one thing on all who read this, it would be that homeless people are people just like us with our problems and heartaches magnified.  We had a beautiful Christmas.  Our next challenge is New Year's Eve, and hope for a better life in 2008.  Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.
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6 years ago  ::  Dec 26, 2007 - 7:15PM #42
k-bearsmom
Posts: 1,716
I KNOW you did'nt share that to render praise from anyone Bird...but you have blessed ME with your beautiful heart and giving spirit.

When we give...without any expectation of "reward"...the joy which fills us is immeasurable! And when we give, to those considered the "least of us", we give to God !

Thank you for gifting me with your Christmas........KBM
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6 years ago  ::  Dec 27, 2007 - 12:29AM #43
aws720k
Posts: 1,900
((BT)) ~ I echo KBM's sentiments! Thank you for sharing your beautiful, uplifting Christmas experience...bringing tears to my eyes.

With continued Blessings and Prayers ~ Annie
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6 years ago  ::  Dec 27, 2007 - 7:32AM #44
Giliana
Posts: 107
BT, thank you for such a wonderful description of your guests' Christmas.  It definitely warms the heart.
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6 years ago  ::  Dec 27, 2007 - 2:26PM #45
VBallR
Posts: 1,020
I too very much enjoyed your Christmas Story BirdTattoo.
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6 years ago  ::  Dec 31, 2007 - 12:30PM #46
CarpathianPeasant
Posts: 78
Another tip, for those that want to help: 

A sometimes problem that surfaces is group transportation.  People are often willing to go to things like rallies; but, there's no way of getting the people there.  Even a car that can accommodate 3-4 people but especially a van that can carry a half-dozen that can be called up if needed would be a viable help.  It would cost an individual the time and the gasoline. 

Technically some places require a chauffeur's license if someone is transporting someone else; but, I don't think there is too much attention paid to the matter outside of a situation where there is an accident; but, someone willing to volunteer a car might want to check into that point.
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 14, 2008 - 5:46AM #47
pmcarol121
Posts: 108
Here in the UK homelessness is  a big problem , being a christian I feel it is my duty to help anyone I see qwho is indeed homeless ,  I usually give them a sandwich and hot drink ( I get this from a local cafe),  I never give money asits so easy for them to beg just for drug money, I have found that many Homeless people have either had a  rwo with Loved ones / a broken relationship/ of mental confusion/ or just on drugs ,
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What do I do>>>>>>>>>>. All i  can do is to tell them of the help available , we have several shelters in my city and theses cater for the homeless , also inform the salvation army to look out for them  as they run soup runs whcih provide hot soup and a roll  late at night. I have heard some very upsetting stories and I am quite a softie at heart so have to make sure I dont go inviting them home , lucky for me  my granson lives with me so I have no sapre room , but how theses poor people tug at my heart strings , I have a warm cosy home and food whenever I want it ,  I pray to the Lord to Look out for all theses unfortunate people and Thank God for his Goodness to me
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