Warm Hearts Make the Cold More Bearable

The recent bitterly cold weather has gotten me thinking more lately about those stuck out in the elements, without a warm place to go. I wonder, as I am driving home from work at two o’clock in the morning, “How many of them will die tonight from the cold?”

I recently watched a documentary film called “Invisible Young“, which explores the homeless youth in Seattle, WA. I was surprised that some of the kids became homeless as young as age 13. 😦 The thing that struck me the most about everything else in the film is that when asked what was the hardest part of being homeless, so many of them replied, “Feeling invisible, like we don’t exist. No one meets your eyes when you’re homeless. You just feel like no one even sees you.”

Homelessness is a HUGE social problem that not many people want to discuss, let alone DO something about. A lot of people don’t know what they CAN do to help, so they do nothing. There are three stereotypical assumptions that most people make about the homeless that are identified in the film:

1) “They have people; That somewhere, there’s a decent family. Maybe there was a falling out, or this teen might have gotten in an argument, didn’t want to give in and so they left decent people.”

2) “They’re choosing this lifestyle.”

3) “They have the skills to go out and get started. I bet you have people, you have resources, you’re just being lazy.”

Sometimes, these things are the case. But not very often. More than likely, the homeless you see are there because of bad life circumstances, abusive situations they were trying to escape, no family or friends to help, job loss due to down-sizing and subsequent foreclosure on their homes…very, very few of them choose to be homeless.

Not many of them “have someone” or “have resources” that will help them.  Not many of them start life on the streets addicted to drugs or alcohol, but those things are pervasive in our society’s underbelly and lots of them start using drugs or alcohol once they become homeless to try and escape the horrors of the everyday reality in which they live. The drugs or drinks make them numb to the despair, make it easier to just get through and survive another day.

Now that the Holiday Season is over, people forget about being charitable. They go back to their normal lives, their homes, their jobs. And sadly, the homeless go back to being invisible.

“The National Coaltion for the Homeless estimates that nearly 700 homeless people die of hypothermia each year.  In early January, 4 homeless people died of exposure in the San Francisco Bay area, which was gripped by unusually cold temperatures.  Last week a homeless man died of hypothermia in Chicago.” ~ Source

So what can you DO to help?  Look for ways to help locally. Here are some links to get you started:

Homeless Shelter Directory   to help you locate resources in your area

Sparesomechange.com will help you find Groups and Organizations that help needy people/those in trouble

Justgive.org lists 35 ways you can help the homeless today!

Contact the National Alliance to end Homelessness to find out more about how you can get involved and make a difference.

* Collect some blankets, coats, buy some hand warmer pads to distribute to those homeless people you can locate.

* Make a big pot of chicken soup or chili and hand it out.

* Donate to local churches or shelters who need extra food for their pantries.

Remember…“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” ~ Ian MacLaren

Warm hearts, like mine, like yours…won’t end the homeless problem right away, but maybe it will make the cold a little more bearable for them.

About dragonkatet

Regarding the blog name, Dragon’s Dreams ~ The name comes from my love-affairs with both Dragons and Dreams (capital Ds). It’s another extension of who I am, a facet for expression; a place and way to reach other like-minded, creative individuals. I post poetry and images that fascinate or move me, because that’s my favorite way to view the world. I post about things important to me and the world in which we live, try to champion extra important political, societal and environmental issues, etc. Sometimes I wax philosophical, because it’s also a place where I always seem to learn about myself, too, by interacting with some of the brightest minds, souls and hearts out there. It’s all about ‘connection(s)’ and I don’t mean “net-working” with people for personal gain, but rather, the expansion of the 4 L’s: Light, Love, Laughter, Learning.
This entry was posted in Food For Thought, Frustration, Homelessness, Human Rights, Hunger, Life, Poverty, Sympathy, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Warm Hearts Make the Cold More Bearable

  1. eebrinker says:

    i’m sort of torn on the issue, because like here in salt lake the (gop) politicians are patting themselves on the back for “ending homelessness”…..but you know how they started? vagrancy laws for downtown that put every homeless person in jail. they eliminated free clinics and did regular sweeps and arrests at the park…….and now are accepting awards for being great humanitarians. things aren’t always what they seem…..

  2. dragonkatet says:

    Yeah, I know that on the surface, they (the politicians) can say, “Well at least they’re someplace warm and getting something to eat” but being homeless shouldn’t be a crime. And the fact that they cut those important programs should tell people where their priorities really lie. Plus, putting them in jail doesn’t even begin to address the social problems that cause homelessness in the first place, whether it’s corrupt home lenders, sheer poverty and income inequality or mental health issues, or what it is that makes so many families dysfunctional, etc. – the REAL social issues underlying why they get to be homeless in the first place….no, it’s easier for the politicians (and a good many of their constituents, too, let’s face it) to pretend that homeless people are all bums, winos, dregs of society and would be better cared for locked up in a jail (where no one had to see them and wouldn’t have to worry about them cluttering up the scenery of parks). Sad. 😦

  3. Jo Bryant says:

    It makes me so mad when the homeless are treated like some sort of plague.

    • dragonkatet says:

      Me, too, Jo. I just wish some of the rich people who have everything would have to spend 6 months as homeless people. Maybe that would give them more compassion for those less fortunate.

  4. I worked in Social Housing, in England for 17 years and I know there are many reasons for homelessness ~ it’s not always a lifestyle choice. And, because the homeless don’t have a vote, they aren’t necessarily a priority for politicians. It’s a dilemma ~ but I always tell critics (usually those who are well provided for themselves) that ‘there but for Grace….’ Great article, thank you, Corina 🙂

    • dragonkatet says:

      Thanks for reading and for the comment, Jacqueline. That’s it, isn’t it? Providence/Grace – some people just don’t understand how the same thing could happen to them at any given time. Compassion is free, though. Thank goodness there are still compassionate people out there who truly CARE about the homeless!

  5. P.S. One time a group of my colleagues and I made a shelter out of cardboard and other dumped stuff and camped out on some wasteland for one night, to bring attention to the plight of the homeless. We were lucky enough to have donations of a portaloo, off cuts of wood for flooring and a gas BBQ (which we weren’t allowed to use until morning ~ what a great breakfast that was!) Even then, one night was quite enough! 🙂

    • dragonkatet says:

      Wow! Kudos to you guys for undertaking that! I bet more people would be more charitable if they did the same thing, just to get an idea of what it is like for those without homes, not just one night, but *every* night!

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