Letter: Lessons learned from ‘A Night Without A Home’
Posted on Nov 26, 2013 - 02:39 PM Printer Friendly View
We arrived disheveled, in clothing worn and tattered as we tried to emulate the life of a homeless person. We searched and found items to make our shelters that would be used as our “home” for the next 12 hours.
We foraged and scoured the woods to find whatever wood and scraps were available to build our fires to have a little relief from the night’s cold. Thankfully, plastic donated by a benevolent person provided protection from the impending rainstorm.
With our shelters now in place, many of us set out on a walk to area businesses—representing a face of the homeless. In general, the businesses were kind and gracious—positively responding to our requests to use the restroom or wash our hands and/or to work and earn some food.
This was a night of increasing public awareness to the plight of the homeless, as well as to raise much-needed funding for the homeless and the needy through the hard work and caring endeavors of the Gloucester Salvation Army.
How honored I feel to have been part of such a meaningful, worthy and life-transforming event. As they often prefer to stay as invisible as possible, it’s altogether too easy to lose sight of the homeless. I applaud the efforts of the Gloucester Salvation Army, led by the compassionate and heart-endearing Darlene Lee and staff, and their dedicated work to reach out to our community and bring awareness to the fact that any one of us could be the face of homelessness.
“Oftentimes we are only one hardship away from being in a homeless situation with something such as a job loss, illness, etc.,” explained Wallease Burnell of the Salvation Army. Much valuable awareness was received by all who participated during the 12-hour night “without a home,” but the most profound of all was to stop and consider a homeless person before we judge them. Stories from previous homeless participants were shared during the evening of people losing their jobs, or their home, an addiction to alcohol or drugs, or having suffered such atrocities as rape and violence, which led to a situation of homelessness.
During the approaching Christmas season it would behoove us all to give, and to be mindful of not judging others—because that is what God has called us to do. Unless you have walked in the shoes of a homeless person, you cannot know the circumstances that led them to their state of homelessness—or their pain, their suffering or their humiliation.