Helping the Homeless is Easier Than You Think

Helping the Homeless is Easier Than You Think

WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – As I walk out of the concert venue doors, and the blaring music begins to fade, I cannot help but notice all of the people wrapped in blankets, sleeping out on the cold, frigid streets of New York City. As I hopped on the train that would take me back to my warm bed, I noticed a pair of arms and legs sticking out of a trash pile. A man was trying to sleep beneath it.
Everyone has a choice in life. For some, it is to go to school, get good grades, and go to a great university. Hopefully after university, they can earn a job that offers a starting salary that is enough to take care of themselves. However, what happens to the people who never had a choice? School is not even an option for many, and these people do not know when or how they are going to be eating their next meal. What about all the children around the world that are born into poor circumstances to begin with? According to American Institutes for Research, “A staggering 2.5 million children are now homeless each year in America. This historic high represents one in every 30 children in the United States.”

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Overall, the number of homeless people in the United States, according to End Homelessness, reached 564,708 people as of January 2015. Not everyone is granted the same opportunities. Bottom line is, there are billions of people in the world who all have different circumstances.
Additionally, there is a negative stigma attached with being homeless. According to an article on The National Center for Biotechnology Information, “people who are homeless are often not only discriminated against because of their housing status, but also face discrimination for other reasons. In particular, these individuals also commonly experience mental illness and/or drug addiction, conditions which are subject to high levels of stigma in society.”
Most people want to believe people are homeless because of a drug addiction, alcohol addiction, or some other reason that makes it seem as though the problem is a direct result of the person’s actions. In fact, according to Salvation Army, “domestic violence, sexual abuse, family and relationship breakdowns, as well as unemployment,” are all reasons for homelessness. Regardless, we have to do better, and take care of our own, as no one should have to be subject to living on the streets with no potential for self-care.
Image courtesy of PopularResistance.org

Steve Jobs reportedly slept on friend’s floors and returned plastic bottles for change. He was able to turn his life around for the better, however, and move past the negative stigma by not letting it define him. How does it make you feel when you walk down the street and you get a dirty look from someone you don’t even know? Imagine that all day from the moment you wake up, until you go to sleep. The only way you can escape the nightmarish reality is if you can find some garbage to pull over yourself to keep you warm while you sleep.
If you would like to start making a difference and helping those that are less privileged, there are plenty of non-profit organizations such as the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Mission in Citrus Inc, and StandUp for Kids which focuses on working with runaways and children of high risk. There are also plenty of food kitchens that will welcome any food that is donated, such as the Foodbank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties.
If you are not in a situation to donate money or groceries, it is absolutely free to simply be a decent human being. Do not judge those you see on the streets without knowing their struggle, and help where you can instead.
 
 

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