Wednesday, October 15, 2008

You Did For Me...

I committed to Blogging today about poverty...and then I realized I don't know much about poverty firsthand! I have never went to bed hungry except by choice and then I am sure I got up in the middle of the night and made myself a sandwich! I have never listened to my children cry from hunger...they may have cried because they did not like what I made them for dinner but never from hunger! I have never slept outside in the elements because I have always had the means to provide a roof over my head or parents that did that for me! I don't even camp because I don't enjoy it! I have a nice hot shower every morning and fresh clean clothes to wear! These are my blessings that I take for granted...

I wanted to look up statistics to show you how many homeless there are in Florida but do we really understand numbers? I don't think so...What I do know... I can't not look at the homeless in Florida anymore. They are everywhere. I guess some came because of the promise or hope of work that never materialized! We see them whether we want to or not . You know that moment... we all have that moment... when we either look away or make eye contact. If we look away...we don't have to feel anything...whether it be judgment, pity or apathy.

I see them now in huge numbers of people in groups on street corners...regulars, who have formed families or who are families! These are people who are mentally ill, alcoholics or drug addicts or people who are "down on their luck!" What a nice phrase for something so dreadful! I can't look away anymore!

They are almost always dirty as it is difficult for them to find a place that will let them shower.
Our community chamber and a group of churches have done something about this need...they formed I am Hope Cafe and there we serve a daily meal at no charge and we are hoping to arrange for showers. Hubby and I have the privilege of serving meals to these people. Some are ill, or have taken drugs, or have been drinking or they are people who have lost everything! Some want to be right where they are, some who hate where they are or others who don't know how they got where they are! Children are fed. Babies are fed. All are fed.

I don't pretend that we will fix this problem...just that I won't look away and they will be fed.

The King will reply, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."
Matthew 25:40

Has your community been affected by poverty? How have they addressed it?
Visit Blog Action Day Poverty and join the conversation.

22 comments:

Hot Tub Lizzy said...

Honestly I don't know about here in Asheville... I do know that one of the reasons I left the church I went to in Minnesota was because they built this huge, fully equipt kitchen and someone suggested doing some meals for homeless or "down on their luck" people, and it was decided we didn't want to risk getting the church dirty.

Buh---bye.....

Now, why do people have trouble with Christians again?

Thanks for the good reminder post!

Lauren said...

I think it's great that you are participating in REAL CHANGE, being part of the TRUE PROCESS.

That being said, it's not truly enough to just feed the hungry. I am a firm believer in feed a person a fish and they eat for a day, teach them how to fish and they eat for a lifetime.

I'm NOT knocking what you are doing, quite the opposite! Just to be clear.

Ronda's Rants said...

Lizzy,
One thing that does bother me...
My church is not hosting this site and it has hurt me in a way I can't express...I don't know all the reasons I am sure but it is a very poor Baptist church that donated it's facilities. We aren't a poor church and our kitchen is much nicer than what was donated. I understand your feelings, more than you know.
Lauren,
As I said...this isn't going to fix the problem...I'll leave that to others smarter than I... as there are varied reasons for the people who are in these situations!
We are offering them kindness, eye contact and a hot meal! Frankly...it is the least we can do!
So, since you are a firm believer in teaching...How are you personally making a change? I personally don't know where to begin. Our community can't afford to take care of all their needs...the homeless flock here like migrating birds! It is sad!

The Blue Ridge Gal said...

I have many of the same feelings about christianity, Hot Tub Lizzy, due to the inner workings and decision making processes of many churches... hence the reason I do not join or attend.

Giving to others, at least to me, has nothing to do with Christianity, but with the heart and spirituality of people. I give from my heart, not because I belong to a specific organization. Those big church kitchens are for church members to sit around and eat soup and cookies, and I'm not knocking something that I don't have first hand knowledge of.

Over the past 5 years cities have passed laws that outlaw people from panhandling in order to make their cities 'appear' to have less of a homeless problem, so the homeless numbers may appear to have been reduced only because these people have had to move away from visible areas in order to beg. Out of sight out of mind mentality.

We give to Vietnam Vets with clothing and furniture donations as well as cash donations. I hope that others will give to causes close to their heart as well.

Jennifer said...

I am lucky in that there is very little homlessness/poverty where I am now. I grew up in a big city though, surrounded by it. Luckily, the kids' school does lots of programs that involves the kids--going to soup kitchens, donating food, etc. I am glad they get the kids involved in this!

Blog Stalker said...

What a great example of kindness and compassion. I tend to look at those on the corners with "work for food" signs as scam artists. Too many stories done on those who prey on human kindness.

I know it is not for us to judge but to take care of those around us. Easier to say than to do. I also know you have to teach them to fish, but do you let someone starve who won't or can't fish? That is a tough question that I do not pretend to have the answer to.

All I know is that what you are doing cannot be wrong. Great job.

Have a great day!

Ronda's Rants said...

Blogstalker...I understand... My Hubby didn't like it when I gave panhandlers money...but we both felt like we needed to DO something...this is men, women and children standing on the side of the street!

Mamahut said...

Your such a big sweetheart. We don't have any homeless people here that I have ever seen. The city where we have to go to the doc's ect has quite a few. The one street that I use to get to my favorite place always has the same guy. I gave him a few bucks the first couple of times...and then I did the unthinkable...I offered him a job. He declined. He doesn't ask me anymore.

Rhonda said...

Very well said! I think they came to Florida from Alberta because they just couldn't hack our cold winters anymore! Lordy, just imagine that? Sleeping outside in -35!

We took our kids and fed the homeless one time and I was left with very mixed feelings. I don't even know how to explain it. They were not all good.

But when people ask me for money, I offer them food. One time I pulled into a gas station, and there were four adults, looking worse for wear, but they were some of the many here that get the money from the gov't that I work very hard to put there, both treaty money and welfare, and I have a very hard time with that. I offered them the fruits and vegetable that I didn't eat from my lunch (haha, silly girl, eat the good for you stuff too!!) and four bottles of water. I firmly believe, like Lauren, that they have to be taught. They just continually get money handed to them that I worked very hard to earn for them, and then waste it away because they have no idea about the feeling of pride and accomplishment when you do something for yourself. That, here anyway, would do wonders for our "down on their luck" population.

And I do realize that some can't help but be where they are because of the stigma of mental illness. I have worked in a psychiatric hospital and that totally changed my views there.

See? I'm not all bad....

Ronda's Rants said...

You are not bad at all... I am not saying that a good percentage wants to be where they are because they are...I am saying I am doing this because I can't not look them in the eye anymore!
Some would like jobs...I don't have any work to offer...construction is almost all dried up here in Florida and I don't have money to offer right now either...so I help serve food!
What would you teach them? What would they learn that they haven't learned from the circumstance they find themselves in? I would think if you were capable of learning something ...This would do it!
Also...just to add to the mix...many are convicted child molesters who can't find housing because no one wants them in their neighborhood...but yet they wander our streets! I don't have answers...I am asking questions and telling what Hubby and I are doing.
This came out of a need in our community..Our local business chamber and a few churches joined together.
So I am asking you and Lauren and anyone listening...If it isn't enough to just feed them...What do we teach them? These are grown adults who can't or won't take care of themselves...who after awhile for whatever reason think they are separate from humanity and many of us who do see it that way!

jill jill bo bill said...

I made my kids go serve Thanksgiving at one of the sheters. I have mixed emotions as well. Most were very demanding and ungrateful. My kids want to do things for the homeless and I am the one that usually says no. I, too have offered jobs and was turned down. I also was harrassed by the same bum everyday going to work and yes, it was me that called the police when he saw my nametag and would call out "jill" and bang on my window whenever I stopped at the red light. Call me heartless. I am focusing on my family patients, and friends that need help. There are so many services out there available here in TX, they eat better than the avg person and have their bills paid. To me it just gives them no incentive to work.

Kori said...

I don't know how I missed the memo about this, and I have already posted today, but I deal wiht poverty daily in my own life, and yet at the same time I am well aware that there are htose who would look at me and think I have it all. It starts here-and oyu may think that you aren't doing any good, but you ARE.

careysue said...

I live really close to Detroit...we have the largest number of people living below the poverty level...at least that was the statistics a couple of years ago...nonetheless, we have many shelters and places where homeless people can get help, work placement, clothes, a place to stay while transitioning...although that's if they want help to change.

The same thing has happened to friends of mine that wanted to give a person in need food and they insisted on money...they were very rude as well. So, I think that some, not all don't want help...at least that's what I have seen around here.

And many do need to be in a psychiatric facility...it's just sad.

Linda S said...

All these comments just go to show there are no easy answers and the problems of hunger, homelessness and mental illness are serious and awareness is key. You open your heart and give. That is great!

Z's Mom said...

That is so nice of you to do!!!

Ugghh...just read Lizzy's comment...that wasn't nice of her church. Our church donates to Feed My People every month....we all bring in bags of groceries and then deliver it to the food shelter here in St. Louis.

Insane Mama said...

OMG, where I live poverty and wealth have the strangest relationship. I shall have to voice in on this, b/c I know A LOT!

Ronda's Rants said...

You are right Linda...I know I don't have the answers either...just a lot of gut checks!
Z's Mom...I don't know how to explain this but I love doing this...there is something so rewarding to me serve and feed people. I enjoy feeding my family and after awhile these people are important to me...I can't fix anything in their lives and I shouldn't really...but I sleep better knowing that the ones I fed aren't hungry that night!
It makes my stupid problems not seem so difficult to manage. They are giving me so much more than I am giving them...It' s hard for me to explain.

3 Magpies said...

I work in a school district, and have for many years. Nothing causes me more pain than seeing the little children coming in for breakfast on Monday mornings and eating as much as they can, as fast as they can. Our school district is less than 50% poverty, but these kids are HUNGRY~~especially on Monday morning. Rather than pass judgement on "how" their parent spends the household money, we simply feed the kids. It does have to do with being a Christian, having empathy and compassion, and loving one another. Nice matters.

Dawn said...

As a social worker, I've studied poverty pretty heavily and 3 of my 4 schools that I work at are in a very impoverished area. It is an eye opening experience to see it first hand. It is also inspiring to see people helping people and making sure everyone's needs are met.

bethany said...

what you are doing is awesome!! Keep reaching out, loving and giving!! It is amazing to see how impacting our little efforts are, God uses them and makes them into much more.

Great post...LOVED it. :)

bethany said...

You are going to sponsor me!!! I am so excited, and you are matching my $!! I am SOOOOOOO excited. YAY!!

Karyn said...

You and Bob are so good. The boys and I need to meet up with you on your Mondays at the Hope Cafe.