Social Media Social Good: Homeless Yet Hopeful

Category: Social Media Social Good Series

Homeless manWritten by Edna Myers

Every morning I get up out of my warm and cozy bed. I walk into my fully equipped kitchen to turn on my coffee pot and open the refrigerator to stare at the choices it holds. Nothing looks good and I wish I had shopped for a better selection the night before. I quickly think of how ungrateful I can really be! Why am I obsessing over what I don’t have while I have so much compared to others in this harsh world?

Homeless

While I am climbing out of my warm and cozy bed, somewhere in the world there are numerous people without a bed! They count their blessings for the park bench, doorstep, the cardboard used to break the wind, or the occasional spot in the local shelter bed! I have learned a lot of surprising information on shelter life from a homeless man. The beds are always like a lottery, you must be in at a certain time, and no matter the weather outside you must pack your meager belongings to vacate the building for the day right after breakfast!

The homeless return to the shelter for dinner – if there is enough funding to provide that meal is something they are not certain of – yet they remain hopeful for a second meal of the day and a place to yet again lay their head. What can I do to keep them from being turned away at the end of the day? I can donate my time to serve meals and donate food to the pantry of the shelter to ensure there is a meal to feed them! I can get together with my friends and have a fundraising event to draw attention to the need of the shelter and to help build funds! There are so many things all of us could do to help out!

Homeless Shelter

As I am turning on my coffee pot and waiting impatiently for that first cup of glorious hot liquid, there is a person looking through the window of a local coffee shop wishing he/she could just enjoy the warmth of the cup between their hands. I decided that next time I am at the coffee shop, I would look for that person looking in at the cup in my hand. I will offer them a cup of warmth and comfort! If I can afford a cup of coffee at $3.75 for myself, why can’t I afford the same for them? I will lend my ear to them over that cup of coffee and a muffin while learning something about that person. Everyone has an importance in this world and taking the time to listen gives us all a learning opportunity.

There I stand being so ungrateful for what is in the refrigerator of my fully functional and well-equipped kitchen. This is the moment when I realize just how blessed I really am! There are people out there that dream of having a simple little kitchen with a refrigerator of their own to hold a meager amount of food & drinks. Instead, they are standing in a line waiting to be served up whatever the soup kitchen offers up. They worry that there will not be enough when it is their turn in the service line! If the soup kitchen runs out of food, where is the next place to find a meal? Will it be the dumpster behind a restaurant? Will there be a person that looks up and sees the need for a warm meal? Will you be the person that does that random act of kindness? Don’t turn away! You could be that very person standing there weak from hunger and a lack of sleep in the blink of an eye!

Homeless

Each day I try to be thankful for the blessing I have and try to think of a way to help someone else. What many of you may not know about me is that I have been humbled. I have been homeless and wishing for all the things I have now. I worried about having a place to sleep and a meal to eat. It really is a character builder to experience doing without! I was blessed with a great support system when I really needed it the most and quickly bounced back. Many don’t have that luxury!

Be thankful for what you have and always take that extra step to help someone else! There are many local charities that would be happy to take your donation of any items you have available! If you are struggling you can give your time or simply listen to a person. Sometimes just a person to talk to can be the most valuable gift you can give!

You can find a 501c-3 charity near you by asking your local Church or Chamber of Commerce. Your State Attorney General approves a 501c-3 charity at the state level. All legitimate fundraising is approved by the State Attorney General and will be listed on the State website with the breakdown of where your money really goes. Do your homework to ensure your money makes the biggest impact! 501c-3 charities will have an I.D. called an FIN # and will provide you with a tax-deductible receipt for you kind donation! Make sure to ask questions and research the charity you are considering! There are many organizations that are worthy of your support! You can link up with two of them below:

The Salvation Army and The Red Cross

Note from Bruce: Originally, I asked Edna if we could collaborate together on a column with this topic for the Social Media Social Good series. After getting her “first pass,” which is above, I realized that I had more than enough of a great and important story to share from her words alone.

I made a television movie – very long ago – called “God Bless the Child,” which was the first movie to depict the homeless situation in the U.S. It won the prestigious Humanitas Prize and was even shown to Congress. Making that movie, I learned much about the homeless and I saw where they live, often in the extreme cold weather that much of the country is experiencing now.

Social Media gives us an outlet to do good. You can help. The best way, as Edna describes, is to support worthwhile organizations, or individuals with food. Be wary of ever simply giving someone money since too often – sadly – it’s used for alcohol or drugs. We can each make a difference though, so please do your part.

  • Stormnet Media

    Great article Bruce, homelessness is a community issue, not just the cities fault. With all our money we could do more for the less fortunate.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      @stormnetmedia:disqus – this was all Edna, but thanks for your support!

    • Edna Myers

      Thank you Stormnet Media. I have worked on fundraising for families in need for a while now. It is a wonderful feeling to help others.

      • Stormnet Media

        Take a look at this special from HuffPo, this is an epidemic http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/@working_poor/

        • Edna Myers

          I started noticing the trend of families moving in with each other back in 2008 – 2009. More and more households have become multiple generation homes in an attempt to avoid being homeless. It is frightening to know that this trend of homelessness will increase!

          • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

            I’m not so sure there’s a trend towards homelessness (idk, but I hope not) – but I do like the trend of families living together in multi-generations. That might be a good thing to get back to those kind of roots?

          • Edna Myers

            I find that strength comes from your family. A tree stands strong in a storm from a great root system & that should be what our families are. A strong support system in this big storm called life.

  • nathashaalvarez

    Great job, Edna! About two years ago, I had to move out of my rental apartment. I’m a veteran teacher and couldn’t find a place because my salary wasn’t high enough to rent another apartment in the same complex. I’m also a manual wheelchair user and couldn’t rent any apartment. Long story short, I had no home. I stayed with relatives for about 6 months until I did find one. But growing up had bumps as well so this 6 month stint wasn’t as bad. I make it a point to always help the homeless whenever I can. Are those photos from NYC? My sisters say that many people leave their leftovers in a bag near the top of subway entrance stairs for the homeless. Have you heard of that?

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      @nathashaalvarez:disqus – she did rock it, didn’t she Nathasha? So many of us take these basic things we have for granted…I am grateful EVERY day for the blessings in my life. Makes it all the more sweeter!

    • Edna Myers

      In the blink of an eye, I found myself injured & unable to work. (still not able to return to previous types of work) The people that helped me were Angels in disguise. They let me use their car for Doctor appts. and gave me a place to be until I could get my own place. It took me 1 1/2 months to move to my home. Without the support I received, I shake just think what it would have been like. Life isn’t easy! Adding the homeless part makes it hard to stay hopeful. Yet most of them keep that positive mindset. I am not sure about NYC. The homeless fellow I learned from was in Boise, ID.

      • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

        @ednamyers:disqus – yes it can happen just like that…but, it’s important to be honest and admit that a LOT of the homeless are there by lifestyle choice (drugs) or mental illness (liberal laws in California permit people to be crazy by choice and not require them to be institutionalized – a odd balance between freedom and a safe/sane society)…

        • Edna Myers

          That is so sad. They really need mental health assistance. Life is so fast paced that no one really thinks about all of this! I am glad we did this piece. Maybe it will open eyes to reality!

          • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

            @ednamyers:disqus – we suffered this sad political reality when a very close relative could not be institutionalized – though it was CLEAR AS DAY she needed help – until the police FINALLY picked her up on the streets for scaring neighbors…

  • David Weber

    Very thought-provoking and very true. You and Bruce are serving as consciences.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      @DavidWeber – remember when I made “God Bless the Child” and what a stir it cause at the time – a lifetime ago – but the problem still persists though we’ve got a better understand of who the homeless are and it’s not always/often a “normal” person though it happens to us “normal” peeps too, clearly…it’s just often a function of choices or mental illness the majority of the time…but ONE person that is homeless and wants to be self-sufficient it too many in my book!

    • Edna Myers

      Thank you for the kind words. It was a blessing to work with Bruce!

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