Maybe you’re familiar with this above photograph, or maybe you’re not. It is the Damm Family, photographed in 1987. And yes, they were homeless. Yesterday evening, Weston and I spent time with just a handful of the many homeless families in Lawton. Clay is TDY this week, otherwise he would have joined us. Through Family Promise, our church is hosting area families this week and I was asked to volunteer and socialize (apparently other church members think I am bubbly) with our guests. Family Promise is a nation-wide, non-profit corporation dedicated to assisting newly homeless families find the stability they need to acquire their own housing, jobs, or financial independence. During the time a family is enrolled in Family Promise, area churches provide the temporary housing, meals, and related support for families on a weekly basis.
Weston had a blast playing with the young children. He had no preconceived notions about them. He didn’t care they didn’t have a home. And he didn’t care that they were accepting handouts to simply survive. As Weston gets older and we continue to volunteer our time, he will start to realize that not every child has a warm bed at night. He will realize that not every child has two parents who love them unconditionally. And he will begin to realize that there are elements of our world that don’t make sense and don’t seem fair. We can only hope that he will embody the compassion necessary to help his fellow man. Our goal is to raise him as a functioning member of society. We hope he doesn’t forget about the society that is often swept under the rug.
I tend not to discuss religion or my faith too much on this blog. I am not sure why, after all, it is a big part of my life. Maybe it is because I am not quite comfortable talking about my faith walk just yet. But just know that I am so incredibly thankful for our church here in Lawton and I love the opportunities I’ve had to become involved with the community. Sure – there is much I dislike about Lawton. But maybe I can change some of those things during our time here. And I have faith that I am here for a reason. And I am determined not to sit around complaining. What good is that?
Families are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population, with the average age of a homeless person in the USA being 9. And 1 in 5 children in the USA live in poverty. For more information and statistics on homelessness in America, check out the National Coalition for the Homeless. Regardless of your view of the homeless (“They put themselves in that situation.” “Why don’t they just get a job?” “Why don’t they just go to a shelter?” etc…), these children did nothing – they just happened to be born into a family that was more poor than yours. These children do not deserve our judgement. These children do not deserve anything but our love and our support. They need our help to break the cycle, otherwise the homeless problem in our country will continue to grow at an alarming pace.
Helping the homeless is not a Democrat or a Republican issue. It has nothing to do with being liberal or being conservative. It is a humanity issue. We humans have the ability to feel compassion, a feeling that not many, if any, other living beings have the opportunity to experience. I know it is easier to ignore the problem. Many of us don’t even have to see the homeless if we don’t look hard enough. Maybe it is just me, but I don’t want to live my life by doing what is easy and ignoring the not so pretty things about life. My goal is to live a more simple live. Maybe it is because so others may simply live.