So many people walk around them, averting their eyes, not sure of what to do. We feel helpless. We see their need but don't know how we might help, if what we would do would really help.
What is your first reaction to a homeless person?
- I pretend I don't see them!
- I avoid them!
- I give the money!
- I feel compassion and want to help but don't know what to do!
Who do you see when you think of the homeless? Do you see the face of a grizzled old man who has a drinking problem? In the past that may have been an accurate picture. Yet more and more the homeless look just like the rest of us.
Today's homeless may have college and graduate degrees. Some may not read past the first grade level. There are those who are mentally ill, or addicted to drugs or alcohol. Then there are those who are dedicated Christians who have never used an addictive drug. There are those who have had highly skilled or productive jobs, others haven't worked in a long while. Some are veterans of our armed forces.
You might see those who have never before been homeless. They have families and have had homes, but have just encountered one crisis too many. They may be working, but existing from paycheck to paycheck with no reserves for any kind of emergencies. They may be mothers who are just now getting up their courage to take the kids and leave their abusive husbands.
The startling fact today is the homeless are getting younger. Nine year old children today are homeless. Teenagers are homeless. And some of our young men and women, who are the future of our country, are homeless.
The Association of Gospel Rescue Missions releases a snapshot survey each year: Fresno 2012