the "beds" at the shelter
Imagine with me for a moment...
This is your life:
- At 5 a.m., the alarm sounds. It's time to get up!
- You must leave your cot and only shelter at 6 a.m. (You have not eaten breakfast.)
- If you are male, from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., you mostly wander the streets. You may be trying to find a place to work, to eat, to stay warm or cool off, depending on the time of the year and the weather. You may be trying to access your birth certificate or social security card. You may have any number of appointments with people trying to help you with medical issues or with finding a place to stay.
- Between 2 and 3 p.m., you get in line at the shelter. You have to get in line early because they run out of beds at the shelter. So you wait in line for between one and two hours (in the heat or the cold), and at 4 p.m., the shelter begins letting you in.
- From 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., you can read, watch television on the group TVs. You get to eat dinner. At 10 p.m., it's lights out.
- Then, repeat. You're awoken at 5 a.m. and out of the shelter the next day.
You are mostly with the same people. The other homeless men and women become your family. By the way, if you are married and homeless, you do not get to stay together. Men stay together and women stay together—they don't mix.
You all together experience a very similar life. There is no great diversity.
You are thankful you have a roof over your head at night, but you also forfeit the basic human desire for freedom.
Most of your life is dictated by a schedule that you do not set, that you have to follow if you want a roof over your head for the night.
So why do YOU matter to the homeless?
You matter to the homeless
because few other people care. You matter to them because they have lives and heartaches and stories to tell. We all desperately want to matter. We want to be heard, listened to. Just like us, the homeless long for someone to hear their story.
A few weeks ago, I asked my new homeless friend "Will" what the challenges were for him being homeless. He started talking, and about 5 minutes in, he said, "Am I talking too much?"
I chuckled, "No, I love hearing what you're thinking. Please, keep going!"
He replied, "I mostly listen. I like to listen to people, but then when I get talking, I just get going and don't stop." This is so common for the homeless men and women we meet. Once they start talking, they keep talking, and I think it's because it's been a long time since someone has listened...to their story, to their pains, to their dreams.
People just want to be heard, listened to. The homeless are just people, like you and me. That's why your coming down to South Dallas matters. That's why it matters when you stop for the homeless person on the side of the road. YOU matter to the homeless.