02
Feb
08

111. A Word From The Other Side of The Fence

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I am not homeless. I own a home. I have a roof over my head, food in my house and a warm bed to sleep in at night.  I have been employed for my entire adult life. The thought of sleeping in the openess of the cities or the rural areas of our country terrifies me. Fact is ,I have nothing in common with the homeless veteran population of our country it would seem….. but there I would disagree with you. 

Each and every one of us has a common link to our homeless veterans for all of us share in the rights of living in a country where we accept our democracy,often without much thought or gratitude.  Our veterans are the ones who have stepped up to serve this country and who have made personal sacrifices in the name of this country. In my book that is a very big deal given the fact that I have never offered up such service to my country..and I think we certainly owe not only our respect but also our grattude to all our veterans. I have been shocked at the lack of compassion shown for the homeless population of our country. Wanderingvet has highlighted several recent deaths of homeless citizens  exposed to the elements during the winter months. How can this be happening in this country of abundance? I know that many ,many people who are not homeless never extend their thoughts to others who might not have a warm meal or shelter from the cold. The homeless are indeed viewed all too often as “invisible” citizens by many. There are stereoptypes that abound to those who don’t know the statistics behind the homeless citizens of our communities~on any single night there are an estimated 3.5 million people who do not have a home!  We have veterans who were good enough to make personal sacrifices for us, people with mental illness who need help, families and children facing their lives without a place to call home. How can this be happening in the USA?

Homeless in not an illnesss rather it is a symptom of what is happening in the US.  We as a country have let our compassion for the social welfare of our citizens lapse…and when we continue to let the “invisible”citizens of our homeless population remain low on the list of  domestic priorities then things are only going to get worse.  Many of you who may visit  and read this might be like myself and have a sincere desire to help those who are without a home. But where does one begin with helping such a huge population of those in need?  The answer is it only takes one person to make a difference to someone . I have composed a list of ways to help those who are homeless in your communities. I make no claim to know what it is like to be homeless and welcome the voices and input of others who might have first hand experience. All I know is that for this American,sitting by while our  “invisible” citizens are ignored is not good enough for this country..we can do so much better.

  Ways To Help The Homeless:

~Make personal care packages of toothbrushes,toothpaste,deodorant, socks, liquid soap or anything else that might be useful for daily person care. This is easily done for less than $10. Carry some in your car so you have them available to those you might come in contact with. Drop some by the local shelters or VA clinics.

~Donate your time to help at community soup kitchens  or shelters that serve the homeless~these shelters depend on volunteers. There are also many other ways to help by asking local charities how you can become involved.

~Buy food coupons to hand out to the homeless.I buy $5 coupons from various fast food chains and when I see a person with a sign who asks for food I give them the coupons. At Christmas I also bought movie coupons to give out thinking that this would afford some folks a much needed warm,dry place to enjoy a few hours of their day.

~Donate your old clothing to organizations who donate to the homeless. In my area I give all my old clothing to the Vietnam Veterans Association instead of Goodwill. They also accept home wares. This group actually comes to your home to pick up the items.

~Give money directly to organizations who support the homeless.

~Donate groceries to food banks for the homeless.

~Contact local VA clinics and offer to volunteer for transportation services for those who might need help.

~Be an advocate for the homeless. If you see or read about something that merits a voice then take time to advocate for the homeless civil liberties via letters or e-mails.

~Hire the homeless…and pay them the going price for services rendered.

~Finally, treat all homeless people you meet with respect and kindness. Look them in the eye, smile, exchange greetings. These people are not “invisible” and deserve courtesy and not disdain or omission. 

All of the above suggestions are just small ways to help our homeless veterans who find themselves on the street. It only takes a single act of kindness to have a real impact on letting our homeless know they aren’t invisible.

An American

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2 Responses to “111. A Word From The Other Side of The Fence”


  1. February 2, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    Thank you An American. Your post needs to be read by people like Bill O’Reilly who recently said on a newscast that “There are no homeless veterans sleeping under bridges”.

    Far too many of our newsmakers and our governmental leaders have attitudes like that. They need to take lessons on compassion and live a few nights on the street with our Heroes. Maybe steal a heart from a tin man.

    Or better yet, read your post!

  2. February 4, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    I have posted a story on my blog about a judge who sentenced a man to spend the night homeless for stealing a Salvation Army Kettle.


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