According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, on a single night in January 2020 in the middle of winter, 580,566 people were experiencing homelessness in America— meaning they were sleeping outside, in an emergency shelter or living in transitional housing. Imagine not having a place to call home or not knowing where you will sleep tonight.
The homeless exist in virtually every city in our nation, often greatly exceeding the number of emergency shelter and transitional housing spaces available. Most homeless people are single adults, with about 42% being families, unaccompanied minors or veterans. About a third of these individuals are suffering from some type of mental illness.
Many people believe that homeless people are lazy and just need to get a job. This is not true for most of these individuals become when a person becomes homeless, a vicious cycle begins. It is difficult to get a job if you have no permanent address, place to shower, food to eat and some semblance of stability in your life. Truth be told, the majority of Americans are a paycheck or two away from being homeless. Things happen — you or someone you love could lose their job, become ill and could be walking in the shoes of a homeless person. If we would admit it, most of us can say, “but for the grace of God, go I.”
This month, in the middle of winter, we encourage our GSS Agents and others to reach out and help our homeless brothers and sisters especially during this cold winter month. We all have gently used items in our homes that we can donate: coats, gloves, scarves, blankets, a meal, some toiletries, etc. And if there are no homeless people in your town, it’s likely you know someone who needs a place to stay or is having trouble paying their rent or mortgage.
As we enter 2022, thank God that you have a place to lay your head by secretly and generously blessing someone less fortunate in one of the following ways:
Secretly drop off a blanket or a gently used jacket in an area where homeless people frequently congregate.
Volunteer your time or donate gently used items to a local church/organization that helps the homeless.
Provide bottled water or a non-perishable food item to the next homeless person you see on the street. Pray for him/her.
Secretly provide some money to help a family member or friend that you know is having trouble paying their rent.
Start the year out by spreading kindness. Any small act of kindness will make a difference!