May 4, 2006

No Home in the World

Yesterday WHYY, our local public radio station, aired its morning call-in show, Radio Times, on the topic of homelessness. A man and a woman were being interviewed by the host, Marty Moss-Coane. They had both been drug addicts for years. By the grace of God and the perstistent intervention of relatives, they've been clean for a few years, and are now living on their own, and giving their time back to help the homeless.

While they talked, I scrubbed my kitchen floor. I thought about my brother David, who lost his life on the streets, despite all the advantages he started out with. Drugs and mental illness took over at several points, and homelessness struck three times. I've got to call in to that show, I thought. Where's a pencil? There was never a pencil to be found quite at the time Marty said the number, plus it was almost twelve, when the show would be over. She said, "We can take one more call. Here's Dan from Center Valley."

It was my other brother. He said, "I had a brother who went to college, trained for a career, and yet somehow ended up on the streets. When you see a homeless person, you have to realize that that person is someone's son or daughter, sister or brother, mom or dad." Later I emailed Dan to say how glad I was that he called in. He said, "I was on my way to Dad's when I called. I didn't expect to get through - just squeaked in under the wire! Needless to say, I needed a few minutes in the car to compose myself before I could go in to lunch, but I am so glad I got through."

Next time you are rushing down the street, whether it's to work, to lunch, or to run an errand, stop and say hello to the ones who live life on the margins. And--please--smile and look them in the eyes.


jo(e) said...

Thanks for sharing this.

I have a relative who works as a nurse at a shelter for homeless men. And she said that a very large proportion of the homeless men who come in are veterans. That kind of statistic always makes me think about the ways our culture helps create these situations in which people end up living and dying on the streets.

Amishlaw said...

A wonderful story, well told.

traveller one said...

An important reminder- thank you. When we used to work with street kids in Toronto, we tried to remind ourselves everyday that every person is someone's child and that their mother used to sit and count their baby toes.

Anjali said...

Wonderful post, Lauren. How touching. And thanks for the important message... I often don't think about who homeless people are (and what they mean to loved ones) when I drop money in their cups.

McBetty said...

Thanks. My husband's brother was homeless for quite awhile. Then he got a job at the VA Hospital, an apt., and died there.