Now that I’ve been doing outreach for a while, I’ve become more aware of the psychology of the homeless. In some respects, their mental processes and behaviors are like anyone else’s but obviously with different affects and outcomes. These differences are the barriers that I encounter when trying to provide assistance to those on the streets.
Some of the influences that effect a homeless person’s psyche are the fear of losing all of their belongs on any given night and having nothing to protect themselves from the elements; fear of being assaulted while in transit or while they sleep; fear of not knowing the severity or outcome of health issues; and the fear of their former selves and the level to which they have fallen.
Consequently, when I approach a homeless person and ask how they are doing medically, nutritionally, environmentally and/or spiritually; they have to break away from a defense mechanism. This unexpected personal inventory can make someone feel suddenly vulnerable and that transition puts people in a fragile mental state. It’s a long way of saying that when helping someone, you should have a thoughtful and a caring approach. This is not always easy to do in such harsh settings for either the needy or those trying to help.
Beth and I launched our bus for the first time last week; and it significantly upped the scale of this outreach. In total, we helped around three hundred (300) people in just three days. It is a concern of mine as we grow, that we continue to bring forth sympathy, warmth and friendship to all those we encounter.
As I see the picture of Helen sitting cross-legged at the corner of Michigan and Ohio, I notice the physical and emotional distance that Beth and I have to cross to help her. Likewise, Andrew had his companion cat on a safety leash concentrated on food for his friend before the growing abscesses on this arms and legs. We tried to give Matt some socks as we stood off of Wacker Drive as though we’d been friends for years.
At times, the crowd would grow and Beth would strike a tender pose with each person reluctant but hopeful to address their concerns. With those barriers removed, Beth was able to directly bandage a man’s infected hand while providing some dignity that he is worthy of being cared for. Our artist friend Caleb is always reluctant to disclose he needs help, but eventually takes food, blankets and medical items.
I pray that these incremental exchanges add up to significant and sustainable success for the individuals and the community were looking to serve.
As I’ve often said, that I only wish those who have donated could be there to accept the thanks and rewards of your donations: from Jean Grys, Connie Duden, Ruth Kulmala-Repp, Janet Culkin, Angela Austin Sales, Jim Eubanks, Steven Hamilton, Veronika Ossul, Alecia Rahn-Blakeslee, Cindy Hewett, Jim Levesque, Jason Torres, Darryl Hom, Jim Nadenbush, Tom Itschner, Cory Helmick, Julie McElwee, Amanda Winne Fritz, Stacey Smith Kelley, Jon Hill, Christopher Porter, Gloria Fangmeier, Gurneet Sagger, Ian Goldberg, Peggy Goldberg, Cindy Quiles, Tim Casady, Jason Patera, Danell Culkin, Robert Short, Andrea Pescaglia Schade, Jennifer Oberle Schaltz, Sharon Gates, Gillian Fealy, Jacob Fraser,Jim Ash, Lisa Swiontek and everyone else that’s dropped off items. God Bless you all!