. . .Would Someone Please Help Me!

The homeless come in all ages, colors, faces . . .

This could be my granddad. Or yours.
This could be my granddad. Or yours.

a look at a few homeless and their places in life

He is known as the pigeonman.
He is known as the pigeonman.
A Bowery 'street sleeper,' finds rest on the concrete mattress of the city when there is no room in the mission.
A Bowery 'street sleeper,' finds rest on the concrete mattress of the city when there is no room in the mission.
A homeless person's shelter.
A homeless person's shelter.
homeless persons near Cologne Cathedral in Germany.
homeless persons near Cologne Cathedral in Germany.
this homeless man is known as the fisherman.
this homeless man is known as the fisherman.
Younge Street Mission tends to thousands of hungry, cold, and homeless people.
Younge Street Mission tends to thousands of hungry, cold, and homeless people.

The Homeless

I know. They are there. Day and night. So shamed they live out of sight. What would "we" do if we were they?

Struggle for life, and cry out lives away.

The homeless, contrary to society's assumptions, are not a 'problem' as most evening newscasters (dressed in three-thousand-dollar suits) say, but the homless are people. People who once walked with us, the productive. The civil-toned. And mannerable. Who knows why they are there in our gutters, urine-soaked alleyways. But they are there. And that, friends, is a situation that we cannot rationalize. Ignore. Or simply close out eyes in sleep and 'believe' them away.

I simply can't write this story. Honest to God above. It's way too personal. Way too close to home. And the heart. But, in my load of deserved-guilt for not helping my brother in need, I have to do something. I can't sit idly by and see one more person freeze or starve to death in front of my eyes that do not want to see how harsh the homeless people have it in my country.

This is harsh. Raw. Dirty and unnerving. I wish this were a Disney story. A nice, sweet-smelling essay about peaceful meadows, fluttering Monarch butterflies and pretty lasses in summer dresses, but alas, dear society, dear purposely-blinded society, this is a slice of real life. The real life photo that we choose to ignore, because we have our ready-made, built-in excuses.

"That homeless man drank himself to ruin." "That homeless woman had numerous affairs." "Ahhh, pastor 'Tom,' what to do about the homeless." "Oh, we can ask God to help them. Our church budget cannot afford such expenditures." With those opaque, obscure reasons intact, we turn back the comfy covers and sleep a sleep unhindered by the men and women whose warmth is a steam outlet on some deserted street corner. Or whose home is a new refrigerator box. No, as long as 'we' are comfortable. Clean. Without burden of helping someone besides a friend, we are A-OK. Super-duper. Walking with our civil heads held high, even if it means stepping over a sleeping wino who has drank his last fifth of cherry wine to just get him through the night.

That's fine. He's that way of his on choosing. Not ours. So our routined lives go on. Without as much as a, "may I help you, brother?" or a "here, get yourself a hot meal." That would not be acceptable to our social circle. No, sir. We've worked and toiled way too much to blow our station in life now. No. We must maintain our image. Image is everything, you know.

Countless tons of newsprint have been spent on the plight of the homeless, which now is not just an area of isolation, but a country-wide situation. Papers like The New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe and more have devoted story after story to get people (like me) to just be aware of the homeless. Not to move in with them. What were these newspapers thinking? Me? An American citizen actually caring about a stranger. And give credit to CNN, FOX News, CBS, ABC, CBS, and even Pat Roberson's 700 Club, like 'em or not, these networks have all but exhausted the noun: homeless. And the verb: help.

Do you share my opinion, that you and I didn't cause these people to be homeless? Be honest. Do not insult what sense I do have. Sure you think that. And we both are right. We didn't cause these poor shells of human beings to be homeless. But someone. Or something did. Maybe it was a company being out-sourced to China. Or maybe a small business going bankrupt. Could be that the homeless man laying at our feet was once a minister. A minister? Yes, even servants of God Almighty are not immune to life's harsh blows. And some non-violent people do not know how to fight back when life wields them a blow to the chin. They simply cave-in. Fall down. And are soon forgotten. In the filthy fog that serves as their covers on a winter's night.

I could sit here all day. And night. Telling all that I know about homeless people. Time was, homeless people, like drive-by shootings, to us in our small town of Hamilton, Alabama, that resembles Andy Griffith's Mayberry, was something that happened in a big city, say, Birmingham, Alabama a scant two hours away. But even in Hamilton, like Birmingham, we have homeless people--struggling to just live one more day. And see the light of the sun with their once-loving family who have now thrown them out like yesterday's trash. I told you this was raw. So is the homeless lifestyle--living in boxes, sleeping on streets, park benches, and even on the steps of a church. God help us. On the steps of a church, when the church members should be there with them on the steps ministering to them.

Awww, whoever said that "love one another," meant anything? That was for people 2000 years ago when Christ walked the earth. Things have changed since His time. You sure nailed that, buddy. I humbly disagree to a point. No, things, like Jesus' pointed command, "ye shall love one another," hasn't changed. We changed. From people once with hearts, to people in love with prosperity, property and pride. That's all.

I said all of this to say one thing: "I am guilty. Guilty as the darkest sin before God." I never realized how guilty I was of not lending what help I could give to our homeless, until I saw an ad on one of our Birmingham, Alabama television stations last week. The ad was from the Jimmie Hale Mission, located in Birmingham. And wouldn't you know it. The mission was actually, without apology, or concern for "my" feelings, asking for monetary help to feed a few homeless people since the mission itself does not depend on state or federal funding.

I didn't sleep well the night I saw the ad on television. Nor have I slept well in the nights following the viewing of the ad. And that's a good thing. I needed a push. A wake-up call. Something to get my attention. And the ad did just that. Got my attention.

I am tired of running. Hiding. Ignoring and looking past the homeless. I am, and this is NOT self-promoting, going to start doing something each month for my brothers and sisters in the street. No, I couldn't care less if they are there by choice or not. All I know is that they are there. Suffering. Starving. And needing my help.

Call it conscience eating at me. Or call it God speaking to me of how selfish and greedy I have been.

Either way. It worked.

More by this Author


Comments 45 comments

Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

Amen!!! This has gone on far too long and needs to stop. I have a 1500 square foot basement that we seldom step into and an extra bedroom upstairs. I would love to have a homeless person or even family come stay with us. I do not know how to go about it though. I have had cards made up with my telephone number and name. I give them to people in need. The other day my son in law bought a man dinner at a family buffet. He had not had a bite in over 2 (two) days. That is so wrong and sad. We got him (and his roommate) a lot of groceries. But how many people didn't even when they knew he was hungry? So what if he brought it on himself? We all bring consequences to ourselves. No one should be homeless or hungry. No one!

I vow to do more and then ever more.


barryrutherford profile image

barryrutherford 5 years ago from Queensland Australia

voted up. Even here homelessness is a real problem even amongst youth.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Dear hyphenbird....."I am so PROUD of YOU AND YOUR FAMILY. I cannot say it any plainer...PROUD of what YOU did for that homeless man and now volunteering your basement for shelter....I commend YOU, my good friend, on doing exactly what Our Lord expects of ALL of us. Me included." A Sincere thank you!


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Thank you, Barry, for the vote and comment. Starting Friday, my "secret service," (no, not government-related) will begin for the Jimmie Hale Mission. I feel that if I can only help ONE homeless person at a time, then my life, when over, would have amounted to something. God bless you for the kindness.


pennyofheaven profile image

pennyofheaven 5 years ago from New Zealand

And one at a time is all it takes. Awesome hub bringing the homeless to the awareness of those too who are perhaps guilty of the same. More power to you on your mission my friend. What would the world do without the hyphenbirds and Kenneths?


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Dear penny, give our God the thanks and acalades. And what would "I" do without the "penny's" Hyphens and Barry's and a list of many more. You, my friend, are a super-friend and a wonderful influence on me. Merry Christmas to you and yours.


CMerritt profile image

CMerritt 5 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana

WOW, you convicted me! I am just as guilty as you claim you are. I too, have done very little about this terrible problem. I do every once in a while, when I go to lunch to feed my face at a nearby McDonalds, I will buy an extra Meal Deal and give it to a regular standby hungry person who stands outside the door asking for money.

That, pretensiously fed my ego...but, I know I can and should do much more.

This really is a must read by all, especially during this Christmas Season.

Thanks Kenneth and blessings to you.

Chris


mljdgulley354 profile image

mljdgulley354 5 years ago

Wow! Great article and you sparked another story I will have to tell


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hey, Bro. Chris...with your buying the extra meal, this is WAY MORE than I have done. Honest. And I applaud YOU, my brother for caring about others. I pray to God for Him to give me a heart like yours. Sincerely, Kenneth


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

THANK YOU SO MUCH . . .mljdgulley! The thanks goes to Our Father. I had to really pray about the wording in this. Now glad that I did and I do thank YOU for your sweet comment. God bless you.


GoGreenTips profile image

GoGreenTips 5 years ago from Indianapolis

Voted up! But as someone that was homeless please let me say that I really don;t want you to minister to me when I've been freezing all night. Open the doors to your church and let me get warm!


carolyn a. ridge profile image

carolyn a. ridge 5 years ago

This is a great hub; I hope you are being sincere and not sorry! If you were inspired to help the needy, let it not be just because this is the "season of giving". Let it be always! I agree with your comments, and will venture to say that, sometimes we get "the wake up calls", and still don't answer the phone! Keep up the good work. Happy Holidays!


rsusan profile image

rsusan 5 years ago from South Africa

Thanks for this, Kenneth. It all starts with one. One who helps and one who is helped. Let us espescially remember this message during the coming festive season when we enjoy even more privileges. It takes so little to change a day for a fellow human being. Voted up.


Sueswan 5 years ago

Hi Kenneth,

I donate money to a couple of charities that help the homeless.

You are a good person Kenneth. Bless you.

Voted up up and away!


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Great point, GoGreenTips. That is so true. But I find that most churches, maybe not those where you live, actually do NOT welcome the homeless to visit their churches or missions. This to me, is shameful. "Whatever you do to the least of these, you do also unto me," that that sums it up. Thanks for your comment...that only makes me even more determined to help the homeless.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

My dear Carolyn, I AM being sincere. And SORRY that I havent done something sooner. And NO, it's not because of the season. Ive felt this on my spirit for weeks and even as I speak, I can tell you that last night, I witnessed the first stage of my project be completed. So please take this as a sincere note...I have answered the phone..and its been ringing for some time...thanks for 'coaching' me up. I appreciate it.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hello, rsusan, and you are so right. It starts with ONE person. The longest chain starts with one link. What a wonderful thing YOU said that made me think of the chain. Thank you! Please have a great Friday and weekend. You are a great inspiration.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

12/2

Dearest Susan . . ."You are the GOOD person, not I." You and Chris, in this comment section, have been doing way more than I have. And it is no wonder at why I felt so down and out. God bless you, Susan and Chris as well as rsusan, Carolyn, GoGreenTips, Penny, Barry and Hyphen...you are ALL special friends of mine. I am HONORED to be associated with you. KENNETH


Sueswan 5 years ago

Dearest Kenneth

I am honoured to have you as as my special friend. :-)

Have a good weekend.


mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida

This was a good Hub to bring attention to the homeless. There are a lot of them out there. I open my house to some of them at Thanksgiving, and I get a joy from that. I can't give them a home, but I can give them one good meal. I voted this UP, etc.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Dear Friend, Mary, Thank YOU First for doing your good things for the homeless with the Thanksgiving meal and I know that you cannot, and I cannot, give them a home, but you, with your meal, have done MORE than I. I am so thankful that I have been blessed with YOU as my friend. And secondly Thanks for the comment on this hub. And for he votes. Mary, you are a special friend. (kenneth)


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

12/2

11:50 a.m/cst

Dearest Susan . . ."I am so blessed with YOU in my life that I cannot even write a hub about it. Words betray me. And that, Susan, is rare. And you have a safe, happy and restful weekend yourself." FONDLY, Kenneth


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 5 years ago from Central Texas

Some years ago my brother, an entertainer with a reasonably high public profile and the late Molly Ivins (superb political writer for those who are unfamiliar with her work -- and a name to be reckoned with herself) put together a group of people and they all camped out on the steps of the Texas State Capitol in Austin (with bedrolls, cooking, campfires, etc.). Seems the city fathers were going to arrest the homeless who had no choice but to be sleeping on the streets. After the impromptu "sleep in/camp out" of about 1,000 folks seems the City of Austin decided the homeless could sleep where they could find a place. Sometimes a little ingenuity goes a long way in helping targeted groups of people needing help. Loved the HUB and agree 100% - Best, Sis


Sueswan 5 years ago

Dearest Kenneth,

I am blessed to have a friend like you.

Looking forward to reading your next hub. :-)


Katharella profile image

Katharella 5 years ago from Lost in America

Hi Mr. Avery :) How kind to think of those who are rarely thought of! I'm afraid for the world right now, homelessness effects the world. But since Hurricane Irene battered the East Coast I spoke with a woman who worked there, and I mentioned to her that I am from the north, and they closed the Mental Institutions, now those without family are in prisons. They do not understand it's wrong to go in a grocery and eat without paying, police are called, they go to jail, do not understand they have rights let alone that the system fails to uphold them getting proper legal advice/help.

She said, that it is quickly happening in the south as well. She is over 65 and still working just to pay for her disabled daughter who is on dialysis, medications.

Since I do know someone in prison, his mother has dementia and sometimes forgets where he is. As we began writing he told me he could not stay awake long, when I began calling/writing and asking questions they quickly moved him to a facility where he was given proper medical treatment, and doing well/staying awake. Realizing that, it is apparent they are keeping homeless people without family sedated until they die, and there is no one to ask questions.

My point in telling this, is because I plan on starting a newspaper & website (already being formatted) to inform the public that of which the media does not nor will not cover. As well as things I was told during the hurricane by an official "they didn't want the people to know who ran what" only weeks later to learn they were elected into their positions. (yes I voted):)

Those are the people who we, as well as our children need to know.

FYI: Children are not taught in school there are anymore than the two major political parties. When they are told, they have looks of disbelief on their faces. :(

v-up, and thank you for thinking of those less fortunate.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

12/2

Dear Angela, Right on! Cudo's and Bravo for your comment and your brother and Molly, the "dynamic duo," for doing this (good) rebellious act for the defenseless people of our society. I think that this is an act of sheer heroism. Honest. Makes this old man proud to be on hubs and to know you, Angela. Tell everyone connected with the project you told about that I said Way to Go! Thanks, Angela, for sharing. And being a great friend!


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

12/2 Dearest Susan, that is VERY SWEET of you to say to me, but it is "I," the blessed one. I am blessed every time I read one of your warm comments. I sincerely thank you, Susan, for being so loyal, warm, and genuinely-special. Have a safe night! Kenneth


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

12/2

Dear Katharella, it IS sad. The shape and condition of our society and world to treat the down-trodden and sick the way that our homeless are being treated supposedly by a Christian-based nation. But to imprison a mentally-impaired person???? This is just wrong. I dont care by whose standards. Wrong is wrong. And if the guilty parties do not pay in this life, I guarantee that payment and justice WILL BE rendered in the after-life by The Ultimate Judge. Thank you, Katharella, for your nice comment. Visit with me anytime!


Cresentmoon2007 profile image

Cresentmoon2007 4 years ago from Caledonia, MI

I am shocked after reading your kind comment then to read this and for you to say that mine was good. I believe that I may not have caused someone to be homeless, but I agree that someone/something did and by all means we can at least try our best to help these people. Though I myself surely do not have that much money and am truly struggling this year I do what I can to help. Wonderful hub. Voted up.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Cresentmoon2007, it WAS that good, your hub. I do not view my materials as being good, bad, or having a title or category. They just come from my keyboard from the mind of God. Believe it or not. I myself live on a fixed income, but this Jimmie Hale Mission in Birmihgham, Alabama accepts donations in any amount. And I feel better about 'me' when I reach out to my brothers and sisters in the street. Thanks for the encouraging words and the vote. YOU WILL NOT be forgotten.////Kenneth


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 4 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

I have read and reread your words on this sorry subject. One comment makes me wonder why churches are locked up. They should be available for the homeless to get warm. Sad subject. Great hub.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Gypsy, you got me. I dont know either. What in the world, besides replaceable, temporal items, in a church building, can a homeless person steal? Is this, fear of being robbed, the logical excuse to lock the doors to our churches? Wow. If that is true, then Our Lord, Jesus, would have a tough time getting inside "these' churches. Thank God that not ALL churches are this fearful, but love to reach out to those in need. The way it should be.

Thanks, Gypsy for YOUR warm and much-appreciated comment.

Have a peaceful day and a peaceful Christmas.

Your friend,

Kenneth


lobobrandon profile image

lobobrandon 4 years ago

Hi Kenneth

I'm glad you brought this out to the world; I've seen far worse things than this in India. it's really painful and hard to watch.

Hope this hub reaches the masses who can make a difference

Regards

Brandon


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

12/9

Brandon, you are so right. YOU HAVE seen worse. I wasnt implying that the homeless in America was worse than the suffering in your country. No. Not at all. I just get down and out at MYSELF for the little I have done as a human being for my fellow men and women of this awful area of life.

And I am sorry also for the suffering in your country.

Maybe one day all suffering will be over. When THE CHOSEN ONE returns.

Kenneth


lobobrandon profile image

lobobrandon 4 years ago

I never said that you meant it that way. Just that I've seen worse. It's much better here as well now.


marriedwithdebt profile image

marriedwithdebt 4 years ago from Illinois

Kenneth - I'm glad you wrote this. I watched a video yesterday from 60 Minutes about homeless families in Florida, kids living in cars. It touched me so much that I had to close my office door so nobody would see me "being emotional." I haven't been able to stop thinking about it, and like you, I want to do more. I usually always give homeless people a couple bucks or some food, but I know I can do more. We as a society can only be measured by how we treat the most vulnerable amongst us.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Brandon, I know. I was clearing up the confusion BEFORE it started. I am GLAD that things are better in your country. Wish it were here--for the homeless. Keep up your good work. I am pleased to know you.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

I agree, marriedwithdebt. I too get emotional when I see these same people on the street--even in a small town like my hometown. It is heart-wrenching. No wonder I stay depressed. And also like you, I am working toward ways I can do more for them in the future. Thanks for the commment.


Purple Perl profile image

Purple Perl 4 years ago from Bangalore,India

Here in India, there are several homeless people too. There are also several charities,trusts,religious institutions such as churches, temples and gurudwaras that do their bit in feeding and sheltering the homeless as well as educating the children and adult learners. Some are even given vocational training such as tailoring and carpentery so as to be able to stand on their own feet. Some trusts go so far as to set up shop for such goods and organise fairs for selling such products.They are even educated in financial planning. But, still much needs to be done.

During Christmas season,my family loves sharing our Christmas home-cooked eats with the local orphanages and anyone we see deserving a helping hand.


lobobrandon profile image

lobobrandon 4 years ago

My church has plenty of programs to help the poor from all walks of life and I'm happy to help out when I Can


mandyf profile image

mandyf 4 years ago

truly inspiring you are! I am from a small town and I never knew our town had homeless until I saw a man walking to and from several times a week. I eventually followed him one day and watched him make somewhat of a shelter next to his mother's grave. I stopped and talked with him and found that he returned from iraq to find his mother died and left a large debt. he sold everything he owned. his contract up with the army he ws literally left with nothing and to proud to ask for help. I offered shelter he refused saying he wanted to stay near his mother. but anytime I was in town I got him food and anything I could. it was in the papera few weeks later this man was shot and then beaten by teenagers because their parents were so closed minded and telling their children that all homeless were lazy no good dirty and drunks. I was devastated that I live in a world that as long as we send our money to other countries we think it is ok to let things in our own country go unnoticed. that somehow it makes up for what we are not doing here. Is it really ok to avoid certain streets in your area just so you do not have to actually live in reality? Is it really ok that a man who fought well for your freedom to come home to absolutly nothing and then be beaten because some of you out there have no sense of compassion or selflessness? My dear Kenneth Avery this hub really fires me up! It is so maddening to think that I live in a country where we let these things happen and we do not take a 2nd look just because the reality of it all is to much to bear. I am so Proud you wrote this! I am so ecstatic that you are putting it out there! Thank you !


Lastheart profile image

Lastheart 4 years ago from Borik√©n the great land of the valiant and noble Lord

These words come from the deep of your heart, spread with the tenderness of wisdom. Spiritually blind will not understand. Love's warmth is getting chilly these days...but my dear friend, Kenneth, we have hope because we have faith in God. Keep spreading heart born knowledge because drop by drop makes a pond and from there an ocean of real love will rise. Blesses to you and for those who will read and understand.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

12/13/2011

TO: Purple Perl and Lobobrandon...I am EXTREMELY PROUD Of you both for sharing your comments that made me feel somewhat better. I too am proud of your countries that do more than my country in aiding the homeless. Fact is, it is not MY governments job to aid the homeless...it used to be the Church's job to serve the hungry, feed the naked and house the homeless, windows and orphans. Some churches, honestly, try to do this, while overall, "the" churches I KNOW only love and serve those who serve and love them. Didn't Jesus teach us, "for if you love only those who love you, what reward have ye?" Yes. I belive He did. Something went wrong years ago. The church stopped expanding outwardly and begin growing backwards...and when you have mostly televangelists who teach that Christians are ALL to be wealthy in worldy goods--BMW's, condo's, and gold jewelry, why would the homeless, naked and hungry expect any compassion from a greedy assembly? I wouldn't. And dont. When I need prayers, I seek out the Children of God who KNOW GOD and now carry a Rolex on their arms to say that they love God...I have no use for greed. At all. Much less greedy people. Well, Ive voiced my frustration enough. Bless you two for your comments and friendship. Carry on the great work that you two do.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Dear Mandy, hey listen, my good friend. DO NOT praise Me, for I am only a fleshly mortal. I DO appreciate your kindness, but our Heavenly Father is the one who looks at us 24/7 and I want HIM to be honored. I read your comment with a LOT of RESPECT and LOVE for you and your heart. How you reached out to a homeless "hero," not a bum by society's standards. What other person would do that--sell all his goods to pay off a debt? This guy was a genuine hero to me. And he IS with God right now. I admire HIM too for his total-sacrificial attitude. And I admire you, Mandy, for sharing this. YOU are one of my favorite hubbers, friends, and followers. I am proud to be associated with YOU. Take care and keep up the great work.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

12/13

Hi, LastHeart, I agree and appreciate your comment. Faith in God is what our churches need...not more solid-gold doorways and silver pulpits. I am serious. You have sparked an idea in me that I will work on. Thanks for that. And have a Merry and Safe Christmas.

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