Does this guy look like he has no home? You’d never guess, would you? That is the new face of homelessness. In fact, stats say that many are only one to two paycheques away from this very place.
I have a friend in his 20’s who just spent this Christmas in a homeless shelter. Dressed in his name brand clothes, you would never guess he was a guest at a shelter. Little did anyone know, the clothes on his back, along with a small suitcase, were all the clothes he had.
What happened? He was only 27 years old, full of potential and dreams. He was someone with talent, good work ethics, and a good job. How does someone like this end up on the street?
It’s a result of cost of living existing higher than income. More and more people are finding themselves in this same position. It’s a humbling experience to go from managing a store and having a company truck, to having nothing.
I’m so thankful he didn’t let pride get in his way from phoning us to ask if he could crash on our couch till he figured things out. Our friend lived with us for a month while he looked for a job. In that month, we gave him a place to stay, food to eat, use of the internet to job hunt, and emotional support to get through. We drove him anywhere he needed to go to find work. This is the power of community. Its not super heroic, but it made the difference between him quickly transitioning back into work and staying in a desperate situation for an undetermined amount of time.
I’m happy to say that our friend just left us yesterday to a great paying job and has been moved out of our house to a place of his own. The hope I saw in his face as he left in comparison to when he came to us is remarkably different.
Derek Cook in Calgary is leading something called “The Poverty Reduction Initiative” in which he states; “We don’t want to talk about poverty, but resilience.” I had no idea what unemployment could do to torture a young man. We saw our friend through his highs and some very low lows. Being homeless and losing everything took a toll on his confidence and made his hope waiver. There is something to be said about resilience. It cries out; “Hang on! Don’t give up!” Imagine someone with no family or friends around them to encourage them? Where can resilience have a hope to reach them?
I’ll tell you where that resilience comes from; it comes from you and me. If our eyes and hearts (and homes) are open, we have a tremendous opportunity to make all the difference in someone’s life which can determine whether they make it or not. THAT is something we can all do, and it doesn’t cost us a thing; other than a little time.
It comes back to us returning to the foundation of what community looks like. We need to be willing to be inconvienced and open to investing time into someone in need. When we do that, one less person becomes a homeless stat.
The question is: are you willing?