I got a phone call last night from one of my closest friends. He was in need of some last minute help. He needed someone to come and type up notes during an interview session. I got paid, which is a blessing. I was available. But, I wasn’t in the right mindspace to switch gears. Sometimes though, true friendship supersedes all other emotions.
My buddy is finishing his master’s degree in social work and is working to help his professors with a report being prepared for our city’s mayor on homelessness. We went to a place called The Campus for Human Development. I don’t know all that this place does, but it is a beacon of light and hope in a very dark world. I am pretty sure that this place is not state-funded, but I am not sure about that.
So, we were there to do an interview with 5 guys who are in a very unique demographic. They are guys who are employed yet homeless. In my ignorance, I never really thought about this demographic. And even after meeting with them, I still don’t really understand their condition.
These were really great guys. They were obviously hard-workers and had seen a lot of life.
A few lessons that were interesting:
=> These guys don’t think outside of themselves. What I mean is that they are convinced that they are alone in the world and it is on them to take care of themselves. I get this, and it is good for them to have ownership and take responsibility for their lives. But, they have a hard time accepting that anyone else would want to help them.
=> There is a volunteer, I believe his name is Mr. Poole, that has been there for 21 years. He and his wife comb through the want ads and pre-qualify job leads that are near public transportation and are willing to hire the homeless. He is a shining star. He has severly impacted many of these guys lives. He and his wife have given sacrificially and met a significant need. We need more Mr. Pooles.
=> There is really not much difference between these guys and us. The number one thing that kept surfacing during our interviewing process was the fact that most potential employers have a bias against hiring the homeless. It is just good old-fashioned stereotyping. It is unfortunate because the gentleman we met with yesterday, I would have hired 4 out of 5 of them to work for me. There are some great people who have seen rough times that need a chance.
I had an opportunity to work with the homeless in Washington, D.C. when I was in college. It was a moving experience. They encouraged us to keep a journal, and unlike myself, I did. I remember the first night when we got back to journal. I was re-counting walking into the first soup kitchen where we were going to work. I surveyed the room quickly and couldn’t identify who was homeless and who was volunteering. I don’t know what I was expecting, the homeless to come with tags, or to look over the top like they do in the movies.
Right then and there it hit me like a ton of bricks; You can’t tell by looking at them, and there is nothing but the grace of God separating me from them. With all of the financial strain in my life, it is easy for me to throw myself pity parties. Man am I a jerk! I have no right to complain about my condition. I am blessed beyond what I deserve. And I am a child of the King, does it get better than that? A CHILD OF THE KING