Last week was a busy week for me. It was my birthday and wedding anniversary. Wow, 22 years of marriage flies when you’re having fun! Birthdays and anniversaries fuel the reflection in me; who I am, why I am….
Deep topic huh?
In 46 years of life, I’ve seen a lot, felt a lot, learned a lot. I have my health, my husband, my home, and my family & friends. I have a job I love in a great company. I never go hungry and I never “have” to go without. I have lots of people and experiences in my life that have contributed to the wonderful things I’ve been able to do or have or experience. Thanks Mom.
Mom always kept us grounded. She wanted to raise 3 kids who cared about other people. She wanted us to be respectful, to never treat someone badly, to not judge. She wanted us to understand that there are more important things than money or “things”. I thought a lot about that this past week.
On Tuesday, I volunteered for a "clean river project" in my region. My company provides us 52 hours per year to perform volunteer or charitable activities and they encourage it by also providing bus transportation, snacks, and lunch. How can you go wrong?? I figured this particular project matched my desire to be outdoors and be physical. Oh, I got what I asked for. And more.
We arrived and were quickly acclimated to our new work site for the next 5 hours. The leader announced a few rules:
Please don’t head that way. It’s not safe
Please stay in groups or at least with a buddy
Please note the police detail is here for your safety
Please call me over if you should find any needles
This area was an active homeless camp site. I’ll admit I was
terrified a little intimidated and nervous. The guys we encountered were friendly enough and some even wanted to help us clean up. One guy was gutting a fish he had caught in the river. There were lots of flies waiting for dinner as well….sad.
As our crew cleaned up clothing, cans, glass, plastic, bags, you name it, I thought about the people we were cleaning up after. When they returned, would they marvel over the cleaned up area? Or would they feel their “home” was violated and feel only anger towards this crew who was just trying to do good? I felt very heavy while I cleaned and I continued to feel heavy days later as I reflected on the day.
I can’t fathom the stories of how a homeless person becomes homeless and ends up living along a river in the city. I don’t presume to understand alcoholism or mental illness – two very big issues that plague many homeless people. I don’t judge the homeless because they don’t live like I do or work hard like I do….how do I really know if that’s true anyway? I don’t.