Today, I write to you from the Detroit Metro Airport. While going through the security check, an airport official notified me that I would need to surrender the toothpaste and spray bottle found inside my carry on bag due to their weight. I needed my toothpaste, and if you are Team Natural (hair), you understand the importance of the spray bottle! I was frustrated (as you may have guessed), but quickly began to put my life into perspective: I am blessed and grateful that some toothpaste and a spray bottle were my only worries this early morning!
For others in our society, this is not the case. Before getting to the airport, I took a Lyft to the local bus station. It was approximately 5:45 am, and there were only three people at the station:
- Another woman traveling
- A man I presumed to be homeless
As I arrived, I could see the man praying, and he began to tell me a story about how another man stabbed him and stole his cell phone. My heart immediately broke. I have heard plenty of sad stories in my lifetime, but this particular moment struck me differently. I was at a loss.
It hit me
When my bus finally arrived, I wept the entire way to the airport. I began to ponder the added difficulty our extreme Michigan temperatures place on the homeless, and I became angry because this issue did not seem to be affecting others in the same way it was affecting me. At an early age, I was given a heart from the homeless, but was quickly, implicitly told by society to deem the homeless as invisible. And it never felt right, whether I was walking through the streets of D.C., Detroit, or even any small town. I have never felt comfortable living within my privilege while others are oppressed due to poverty and other circumstances.
We fail to support
I continued to weep as I felt sad, disappointed, and angry. We live in a society where many feel comfortable walking past the homeless without a care in the world. And the homeless are not the only group of people we fail to support, love, and see as human beings: we ignore incarcerated individuals, depressed folks, even our own veterans, etc.. We ignore them directly and indirectly as demonstrated by our federal government’s budget cuts to help support the most vulnerable. The individuals often ignored by this world are the individuals my heart was proposed to love regardless of how difficult it may be.
This post will serve as a call to action and reflection:
- How do you treat the most vulnerable members of our society?
- How can you help the homeless in your own community?
- In what ways have you taken the privileges and blessings you have in life for granted?
I hope to inspire you to reflect on these questions and then take action as I plan to do in my own town.
Below, you will find some links suggesting different ways to help out the homeless in this challenging season:
- Blessing Bags
- 5 Tips on Helping the Homeless
- Winter Is A Dangerous Time for the Homeless: Here Is How You Can Help
- 5 Ways to Help Someone Homeless This Winter
If you are willing and able to accept this challenge, start dialoguing below by typing your thoughts and ideas into the comments section. Perhaps, start a Facebook group for members of your community to begin brainstorming, collaborating, and taking action together! Engage in strategies that make the most sense for the community you live in.
Andrea Buckley, LLMSW
Therapist at Perspectives Therapy Services | Creator of Drea Inspires
Perspectives Therapy Services is a multi-site mental and relationship health practice with clinic locations in Brighton, Lansing, Highland, Fenton and New Hudson, Michigan. Our clinical teams include experienced, compassionate and creative therapists with backgrounds in psychology, marriage and family therapy, professional counseling, and social work. Our practice prides itself on providing extraordinary care. We offer a customized matching process to prospective clients whereby an intake specialist carefully assesses which of our providers would be the very best fit for the incoming client. We treat a wide range of concerns that impact a person's mental health including depression, anxiety, relationship problems, grief, low self-worth, life transitions, and childhood and adolescent difficulties.