How Did This Happen? Homeless Youth


homeless womanOn Sunday, my random act of kindness for my challenge was that I gave a homeless girl food. As I stated on my challenge entry, this experience affected me more than I thought it would or could.

The girl was a pretty, skinny, young, white girl. As far as society goes, all of that works in her favor. What could have possibly happened to her to end up on the street?! As I stopped to hand her some food, I rolled down the window and told her that I couldn’t give her money, but I had some food. She graciously accepted. So then, as the light was still red, I couldn’t roll my window back up. I felt awful shutting her out.

How Did This Happen To You?
So I just had to ask. “How did this happen to you?” She shrug her shoulders, like that’s a question you can answer during a 30 second red light. So I asked her instead if she had a place to stay. To which she answered that she tries to find new spots every night, but security always kicks her out again. Didn’t she have any friends she could go to? “No,” she said, “I don’t have those anymore.”

Just think of it: A young girl, maybe 25, with no family, no friends, living on the street. Could you possibly imagine a worse position to be in? Life would simply be overwhelming me. I really don’t think I’d survive. Honestly, I don’t know how people do it. And when you’re a young, good-looking girl and you have no where to take refuge… I mean, that comes with a whole nother set of problems!

So I am still sitting at the red light and I don’t know what anyone is supposed to say at this point. I couldn’t invite her home because there’s obviously a whole lot of risks involved in that. I can’t afford paying for a hotel room for her, or rent, or really anything. And then that’s just a band-aid anyway. I wished her good luck. How stupid does that sound?! But what do you say??

What Could I Do?
Well, at that point the light turned green and I had to keep moving. I felt horrible about having to move on. My heart just went out to her and I wanted nothing more than to do something – anything to REALLY HELP her. But what do you do? I pondered on my way back home. I could identify with her so well. If I hadn’t had a supportive boyfriend at the time and a family that could send me money, I could have easily ended up on the street after my divorce and before finding a job. It happens so quickly in this county. There are no social services available for the homeless. And if there are, they are so difficult to get to or find that no homeless person really has the resources to do so. It’s just not fair.

So I am still wondering what to do about this. If I had a charity, it would be about helping youth and young adults to get off the street. And I know they exist in some places… but how do you even get there? So then I thought it would be wise to write up a local resources sheet for homeless people. So instead of asking them stupid questions they can’t answer, I could tell them: Here, go to any of these places. Start with any one of them and they’ll help you get your life back together.

what would you do?What Would YOU Do?
I want to go back there, park, sit next to her and talk to her. Maybe invite her for a Costco dinner. I mean, what a horrifying position to be in. Maybe it just simply helps to have someone who listens. Maybe I can go there once a week. Wouldn’t it be nice if she at least had a friend? What do you think? What would YOU do?

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One thought on “How Did This Happen? Homeless Youth

  1. Go back. Park. And talk with her. That is a wonderful thing to do. She needs a friend. And resources, so the sheet with the information is awesome! But really, the friend thing. He willingness to be seen sitting with her. Even taking her to Costco. In my experience (which has been on both sides of the homeless spectrum) somewhere in there she is convinced the nobody REALLY sees her and nobody REALLY cares wethere she is there or not. She will shrug you off because she has been ignored by so many people who give her a hand out and walk awayfeelinglike they have done their good thing and they are done. If you went back, found her, and spent time with her- it will require things from you. She will have a friend. And she will leanin the friendship. Hard for a while. But that friendship will change both you. It will do surprising and wonderful things to your hearts. I think this isoneof the most exciting things I have read about all week. Anywhere. Go back and get her a hot dog at Costco. Sit across from her and listen to her. I love your thoughts about not being able to close the window and shut her out. Love it. (I try to keep five dollar gift cards to local food places so I can hand them to folks when I come across them. That way,if they don’t want to eat right then, the food won’t go bad. Also, if I have money to, I walk with them to a nearby grocery store and get them a few things that they might need. Then I direct them to nearby resources of help if I can. Sometimes the same folks will be in the same area once or twice a month, so if I schedule my time right, I can always be there with a meal card and a small bag of supplies. And some eye to eye conversation.)

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