I work closely with students and find the topics of student loans and homelessness invade our conference meetings almost daily. This posting will veer from the usual talk of debt repayment to discuss homelessness. As always, I hope this blog entry is uplifting and challenges the minds and hearts of its readers.
Jimmy Carter once said, “Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns.” Homelessness is a growing problem in the United States and many believe the destitute are unenterprising. At work, we serve high school and college students who face housing instability and food insecurity daily. Many days I hear volunteers say a mix of the following, “These people are just lazy.” “Why can’t they just pull themselves up by their bootstraps?” “If I can do it, why can’t they?”
To these statements I say, many students are simply born into situations they either can’t control or are unaware of the dysfunction. Homelessness is caused by many factors, one seen too often is the lack of family support. Often times, these minors are forced out of their residences due to disagreements with parents and left without basic necessities. As a result, students may turn to crime to meet personal needs. Recidivism persists when the basic essentials of life (food, water, and shelter) are inaccessible or difficult to come by. The cycle of a life of crime is tough to break.
Abilities apparent at birth or unfortunate events involving mental, emotional, and physical well-being play a role as well. For those who have worked to climb themselves out of the deepest recesses of economic despair, count yourself blessed and teach someone else how you did it.
Consider the following, 1) Not everyone you see on the street is a career panhandler, 2) Requesting financial support publicly by the homeless is the last resort, 3) A common factor plaguing the poor, is the poverty of relationships.
With that being said, the less fortunate need emotional care more than anything else. The sense of belonging is a powerful force. What we purchase daily communicates something about us rather we want it to or not. Some can afford to live in an apartment, others a 3 bedroom two bath home, while yet another owns multiple rental properties.
There’s nothing wrong with buying fancy houses, cars, and clothes. Allowing material positions to determine self-worth leaves emptiness when houses depreciate, cars rust, and clothes fade. Unfortunately, the poor are looked over daily due to what we can see, their evident lack.
So consider lending a helping hand to a high school or college student. Someone in trouble may not know what they need to make their situation better. Here are a few ways we can help combat homelessness if you are not already. 1) Become friends with people from different walks of life. 2) Learn of their needs through authentic relationship. 3) Fulfill legitimate needs without asking. Most times, friends won’t come forth and request anything due to pride.
I am appreciative of the support received from this blog. You guys help keep me motivated! Below is an update of my student loan accounts. Until next time, fight and strive on.