The homeless and elderly lay heavy on my heart today. I live in an area of the United States which gets pretty hot in the summer; today’s forecast 119°. 96° the thermometer read at 6:45am; triple digit readings by 8:00am – the weather report calls for extreme heat over the next few days possibly as high as 123°.
Last year, New York, New York, Phoenix, Arizona, San Diego, California, San Antonio, Texas and San Francisco, California in that order, ranked the top 5 in the nation for rising levels of homelessness. New York saw the biggest increase at 5,548 additional homeless residents, partially due to the impact of Hurricane Sandy in October and Phoenix Arizona ranked 2nd. According to a report issued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (December 2012) the number of people living without any shelter in Maricopa County, Arizona, climbed by 11.2% over the previous year. The 11.2% increase translates to 654 additional homeless people in the metro Phoenix area; some are families which include children. To avoid heat stroke and heat caused deaths it is recommended one limit outdoor activities, spend time in the shade, check on older neighbors (because they are more likely to die from heat related effect while being indoors) and to drink plenty of water; all challenging for a homeless person or family.
Every year organizations in Arizona such as the Phoenix Rescue Mission, the Department of Public Health, Salvation Army and others host water drives to collect bottled water for the homeless. How difficult is it for a business or a church to place a container marked for water donation inside their place of business or worship? Some organizations will even provide the boxes to hold the collected donations. When the donation containers are full the organization will come and pick them up. How much easier could it get? In my city, my little community, there appears to be little if any interest.
Why are we not more aware of the needs of the homeless? Do we not care? Too busy to be bothered? My guess – “Out of sight out of mind”. The community I live in does not have homeless people within sight of our day-to-day comings and goings. Sad to think something must be right underneath our nose before we consider helping. Sadder still to realize others know of the situation and yet are unwilling to drive a few extra miles to help. I hear people say, “I would donate water if there was a facility closer to my home”. “I never drive in that direction.” The comments I truly abhor, “They choose homelessness. If they would stop drinking, doing drugs and get a job they would not be homeless!” “There are plenty of public fountains for them to get a drink”. “Really? Seriously? You think they enjoy homelessness”? “Are there plenty of public drinking fountains”? Ignorance is not bliss and it costs – often it costs lives.
“Except for the grace of God go I”! The homeless are not simply statics; they’re people like you and I whose journey in life took a different twist. They’re human beings who hunger for relationship, a kind word, warm food, a cool drink on a hot, extreme hot summer day, shelter from the sun or rain, and a warm blanket when its cold. Many homeless are families who lived one day – one paycheck away from joblessness. That day came and little-by-little they lost their family pet, their car, their home, friends and all that was dear to them. Must they lose their dignity too?
To my readers who live in senior communities or who have elderly friends or neighbors, be sure to check in on them every day. If you hear they are having air conditioning problems, invite them to your home. Keep in mind no one wants to be a bother and they may say no to your kind offer to sit in a cool home. Invite them for lunch or early dinner (In AZ the hottest time of the day is 4pm). Have them stay after dinner for dessert (watermelon, cantaloupe, things with water content are good choices for dessert) and conversation. If you know they like to read suggest a trip to the library for the day, or a movie and a meal afterwards, or ice-cream inside the shopping mall – a little window shopping (free and cool). Do whatever you can to help get them out of the heat and stay hydrated.
The effort required to help another often is very little. Here are some suggestions for helping:
- Find out what organizations are hosting water drives for the homeless, in your area and donate water.
- Invite your neighbors, your community, your church, and your neighborhood businesses to get involved.
- Spread the word!!!
- Do an internet search and discover other ways to help those in need.
- Get creative; think of ways to not only help the homeless, but ways to help the elderly. Many are single and have no one left to look out for them. Many have children who llive far away in other states and are unaware of the needs of their parents; be a friend – a liaison between parents and children.
These are only a few suggestions – more can be done to help those who are homeless, elderly and less fortunate then ourselves. The important thing is… to do something. No one should ever die for lack of water. ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me Matthew 25:40
Until next time,
The following blog is interesting and gives us a window into those less fortunate then ourselves. http://gottafindahome.wordpress.com/