Challenges of Clean

Everything is a challenge to the homeless. Everything is bleak to the poor. The simplest daily tasks are a burden to perform. The will has been shattered by life. You see a beaten down look on startled faces. You see pain in glazed over eyes. Searching for food and clean water is a chore; maintaining any semblance of personal cleanliness is pure strife.

It is like going through the motions most of the time, standing in front of a giant canister vacuum cleaner that sucks the joy out of life. You don’t want to feel sorry for the homeless. You say they are the victims of their own actions. You want to blame them for laziness, lack of will, and poor habits. They can’t work, raise families, or even provide the rudiments of a living. They are to be despised.

Think again about the real nature of poverty. It is about deprivation, lack of resources, internal and external, and hopelessness. It is a mental and a physical state all at the same time. People who chose to live in a car or on the street cannot cope, they cannot face each day. They are wallowing in the underbelly of the world due to some unknown circumstance. Helping them is a gift that should not be denied.

Few programs exist now that can obliterate the stigma of the homeless. There are halfway houses and places to crash, but the rules are too strict sometimes. The mental set of a drained brain cannot comply. If it could, the person would be normal and able to rejoin the path of life. The homeless are different, a breed apart. They do not make the same decisions and you or I. They are working against all odds.

When you see a homeless person, do you turn away? Do you mutter something under your breath or do you lend a helping hand. It isn’t about giving money and, yes, there is the concern about drug use. It is about changing perceptions of the problem and not burying it under the collective rug.

Community groups have assisted the homeless in many ways. They fundraise for one thing. In another vein, they work in food kitchens, collect leftovers and donated items, and in general they patrol the neighborhood. They work with youth groups to impart a sense of responsibility at a very young age. Girl Scouts of America, the Boy Scouts, and other groups provide meals on holidays and warm clothing. They collect cast off items that are sellable and apply the profits toward improving the life of the homeless.

There is often not much you can really do. The homeless move about if they are approached too often. They are leery and timid. They do not interact well and they are often poor at verbal communication. It depends how long they have been on the streets and to what degree they are deprived. Please keep an open mind.