Down and Out in Beverly H…….I mean, Newaygo County
By Ken DeLaat
Diana Hanna penned (keyboarded?) a guest article we posted a couple days ago about homelessness in our midst and the response was electric. It was liked, loved, emojied, shared, commented on, and viewed by thousands and continues to draw readers to the poignant piece so well crafted by Ms. Hanna.
And many of the comments went directly past the “Oh that’s so sad” to the “What can be done!”
Because that is who this community is.
We are people who want to help.
Don’t get me wrong it’s not like we’re existing in some utopian bastion of compassion or anything. There are many out there who, like the Pink Floyd lyrics, want everyone to “share it fairly but don’t take a slice of my pie”.
But truth is, any community is measured by how well they respond to its members most in need.
And this is a community with a great deal of people who step up. If a neighbor is going through a rough time whether it be an illness in the family, a house fire, or some other personal tragedy these folks show up. They help. And most of them do it without a lot of fanfare because personal accolades ain’t the reason they’re pitching in.
Now granted, tackling homelessness is no small potatoes. The need is great. The challenges are many and they go way beyond providing a place to live. The hoops required to jump through to even try to make an impact are significant.
And yet there are efforts being made and they are good ones. Ones that are changing the lives of people in need.
But as I said, this is an issue with several layers. Poverty, unemployment and its partner underemployment, child care issues, bad credit, no credit, to say nothing of a critical shortage of affordable housing to name a few.
Then there are the problems that might be inconvenient when you have adequate income but become game changing when you are barely scraping by. Car repairs, uncovered medical expenses, job change or loss and any other unexpected costs can spiral things down rather quickly.
Now add some of the other issues that can create homelessness. Divorce or family disputes that cause a loss of income, substance abuse, domestic violence, depression, physical problems, the list can go on and on.
Seem pretty daunting? Well, it is. And while it is always a good thing to contribute to food banks and adopt a family at Christmas time and donate clothing and support the agencies that are doing the good work day in and day out, if you want to do more? If you feel compelled to be a little more on the front lines of this struggle?
Then check out Circles a program at TrueNorth that seeks to help local families overcome poverty. Or contact Hope 101 an initiative through Family of God Church creating housing and help for the homeless and see what you can do to pitch in. Don’t just contribute to the food banks, volunteer to work one and see for yourself what want looks like in our community.
And above all remain indignant, displeased and more than a bit miffed that homelessness is such an issue and a local issue at that. Don’t stop talking about it. Learn the truth about why it exists then challenge those who so simplistically blame the victims. Combat attitudes others might share about ‘those’ people.
In short, become an advocate.
And most importantly….
“One of the most important things you can do on this earth is to let people know they are not alone.”- Shannon L. Adler
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