When I encounter homeless people I look at them, and for many, I hurt.
I acknowledge them. I try to get them to raise their eyes and look at me to make eye contact.
Sometimes they won’t or simply can’t. Their personal shame is perhaps too painful. Sometimes they look over their hand held sign- their protective wall. I smile. I love it when they smile back.
I feel a person in need is also a person in need of a friend – not just funds. If I am somewhere parked, I will walk over and spend time to talk with them. Mostly people just drive by. I used to do that. Most of us still do that.
They are not there because they wish to be. For most it is the only thing they can do at that moment to eat, or feed their family.
I am especially sensitive to defeated people. I wish to bring them out of their defeat even if it’s only for ten minutes of kindness and someone to listen to them.
It is their moment of vulnerability- what they perceive as their failure for all the world to see. There are so many.
Yes, I do try to quickly evaluate them but I think I am a good judge of people and if I feel they are in need I give them money, or once in a while I give them groceries. I’ve been known to come from a grocery store and simply hand them what I just bought.
They are always so grateful for the simplest of things. I think we all should do this once in a while. It will improve all of us, and help people at the same time.
I’ve had a lot of experience with panhandlers and conmen in my day. I’m not generous with them, and I’m intolerant. I’ve known a few that made a lot of money taking advantage of their victims – their donors. Their behavior and reputation hurts people who are truly in need.
I also abhor charities with well paid executives.
So the next time you see someone homeless stop and visit. I want to know their story and find out where they are from and if they will share it, how they came to where they are.
I don’t pry, but I do love to let them share what they wish.