One hour with a homeless man opened my eyes
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One hour with a homeless man opened my eyes

Kenosha : WI : USA | Jul 30, 2012 at 8:55 PM PDT
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One would think that we have homeless shelters and programs that take donations that help the homeless and help them get on their feet, right? We see the guy with the sign on the street that says homeless and no job please help. How many have ignored and assumed that they are using money for other things than what they need and have assumed stereotypes about why they are there?

The other day, I saw one of these gentleman. He was an African-American man aged into his fifties. In the middle of the median he sat there with a back pack and a cardboard sign that said "Homeless Man, Need Help. God Bless."

Something inside me just clicked and made me question everything I have and own. It made me question how every day I could get up in an air conditioned house and still look at my face in the mirror every morning knowing I wake up and go to my job and have food in my cabinets, let alone a roof over my head.

My husband and I turned the car around. We pulled over and rolled the window down and asked him " Are you hungry? Would you like to meet us at the McDonald's over there and we can buy you something to eat?" The man did not hesitate to take us up on our offer. He was very thankful.

He grabbed his backpack, and got on a run down bike and peddled down the street.

We met him there, and sat down at the table beside him and began to talk. A friend of his suddenly came in and he is apparently homeless too. It appeared that there are two of them to watch each other for safety reasons. He sat down too and we all began to talk.

Being curious I asked the questions about the homeless shelters in Kenosha and about the programs there. "The program is a joke." One of the men said. I asked him why.

"Money and clothing comes into these places and they are supposed to be for the people there and they pocket and take the good items for themselves and then you are left with items that are not even able to be used."

The men went on to tell me that some good items get snatched up by other homeless people too who are looking to sell items for alcohol or drugs.

There are a lot of people that do these kinds of things, but what about the ones that don't? What are they supposed to do? Apparently one of the men who got laid off from a company who took their business outside the country started a small camp with tents in the woods. One man has been living on the streets for almost 8 months. The other one has a heart condition and does not have a residential address, so it is hard for him to get assistance.

He needs medicine for his heart condition and said he will eventually need open heart surgery.

I couldn't understand why the communities of Racine and Kenosha aren't aware of this and opening their eyes to it -- because who can trust the homeless man who asks for help on the side of the road? Arent they all bums, alcoholics, drug addicts. The answer is no. Why don't they deserve to be helped?

We don't have a lot but we have a lot more than these gentleman. I began to ask what they needed. I just never thought that this was such an issue. My heart just hurt even though I did not know these gentleman. I want to help them.

I do have a way to contact them. I want to gather some supplies to get them started so that they have things right now until we can help find them some housing or help.

I am not loaded with money but I am loaded with compassion and I want to be able to help those who need it. Why do they not deserve a chance?

I have not been informed of the location where apparently 5 men are living in a camp in Kenosha's wooded areas, however, I have a name and contact number if I need to talk and can get items to them.

It is amazing how stopping one hour of your day to help someone can open your eyes to realities in this country that you never truly realized were so real and cruel.

My husband and I would like to find resources to help more people like this who said they would volunteer their time to help out for a roof over their head. Hard working people should be given the chance to rebuild. I will say this, I have been inspired and believe these men should be given a chance and not have to worry about bad weather, illness and disease, facilities, and having a safe place to sleep.

If the government claims it is broke and can't help them, why cant we as human beings help even a little bit to show compassion for others? If you were on the edge of a cliff and needed a hand to give you a boost to pull yourself up from falling, how desperate would you feel? Wouldn't you appreciate and remember for the rest of your life how it felt to be that person, hanging onto that cliff, hoping for a hand to reach out to before it is too late?

It isn't about politics, it is about one person walking in the other person's shoes and knowing how to make a difference. It is feeling the pain of another's heart when they cannot provide for their family and you have been laid off and are almost where they are.

We have people to care for. Shouldn't we, as a community of people care, if nobody else will? I know that I do, and I will find a way to help. Even if it is, one person at a time.

If you would like to contact me in reply to this article/story, maybe you have a comment or some helpful information to assist these individuals, please email me at sweetieliz25@gmail.com.

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Homeless people are people, too
A homeless person sits on the sidewalk on skid row in downtown Los Angeles, Calif., Nov. 25, 2009. (Photo: REUTERS/Fred Prouser)
sweetieliz is based in Racine, Wisconsin, United States of America, and is a Stringer on Allvoices.
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