Here in California I see homeless people every day. Back home I rarely, if ever, see homeless people. Part of the reason is that the weather is so nice and there are so many beautiful spots along the coast where the homeless can just hang out without getting beat up by the elements. Back home, especially during the winter, they must go underground someplace – I’m not sure where. Plus, I live in a suburb where there simply are not any homeless people – at least they are not visible.
There is actually an interesting blog about why people become homeless, the struggles they face, and how you can help them, called “The Homeless Guy.”
I’m particularly amazed at some of the people I see who are living in dilapidated RVs that look like they could not travel more than a few feet. I’ve seen several of these along the ocean-lined pathway. Their way of life does not look nearly as hard as those who are on-foot, sleeping who knows where.
When I was a young man I had a job one summer with a city youth group in which a small group of us painted the inside of a flop house in the heart of downtown Buffalo. I was around 15 or 16 at the time. It was a vivid experience. In particular, I remember talking with some of the men who lived there in a refurbished school with several rooms holding rows of single beds, and one day I recall a man dying, being taken out on a stretcher already gone. These were people with serious alcohol and drug problems who had no place to live.
In any event, I remember one of the men – can’t remember his name – who used to talk to me every day. He nicknamed me “Satchimo,” because I always had my baseball hat on backwards. I recall him being very intelligent. He told me that he was once a successful businessman with a wife, children, nice house, etc. He warned me about the dangers of alcohol and drugs, explaining how it could happen to the best of us.
As I see all these homeless people every day, I often wonder how they got to where they are. Also, whenever I see homeless people I realize how fortunate I really am.