Merriam-Webster defines ‘homelessness’ as,
“Definition of homeless: having no home or permanent place of residence
— homelessness, noun”
The National Healthcare for the Homeless Council says,
“A homeless person is an individual without permanent housing who may live on the streets; stay in a shelter, mission, single room occupancy facilities, abandoned building or vehicle; or in any other unstable or non-permanent situation.”
Homelessness is defined in our legal system as well.
I’m always grateful to have a home, but in this cold, cold winter, I am even more mindful of the gift of being able to have a steady place to live, a bed to sleep in, clothes to wear, food to eat, and money to pay expenses.
I think most of us wonder what to do when people approach us to ask for money at stop lights or on the street. If we are inclined to give some money, maybe we wonder how much to give and wonder if it is supporting an addiction. But, in times like this, when anyone who is out overnight will surely die, those questions don’t seem to matter at all. In times like this, I think most of us are naturally more concerned that those who are homeless are able to get off the street and have a warm place to stay.
I have conversations with a friend about how we can best help people who are homeless. We talk about keeping non-perishable food in the car, or hats and scarves and mittens. That said, the last time I bought a refillable mug of coffee for a homeless man, he accepted the coffee and gave the mug back to me, saying he only has a certain amount of space in his pack, and he already has a mug. So, what is the best way to help?
There are many organizations that offer help to those who need shelter and warmth and clothes and food, and they are all in need of more help from us. This is a time when we think about how fortunate we are to be inside, and we think about those who are outside in the weather. This is a good time for reflection and research and choosing how to share what we have financially (or clothing or food) with those who are actively caring for those who are homeless. This is one way we can, “make every day count by showing kindness and doing good.”