I believe in human dignity and I believe in justice. Being homeless is not just, nor is it dignifying to the human being. No one chooses to be homeless, it is the result of a racist and corrupt system bent on the destruction of the poor so that others can flourish.
It’s disgusting, and something should be done – this is one of the ways in which I contribute to the fight. We are all connected to each other – by our nature, by biology, and by spirits. Jesus said to love each other as our very own brothers and sisters – this is one of the ways I love my brothers and sisters.
This is how it started
Initially I became involved in the Catholic Worker at the request of a college professor that was looking for assistance in preparing the Saturday meal. I volunteered, enjoyed my time and continued to come back for the Saturday meal.
About a month into the experience, I had a run in with a woman that was violently mentally ill – no harm came to me, but it intimidated me enough to keep me away from the shelter for nearly a year. After awhile I returned – having learned more about the Catholic Worker movement itself and understanding the ethos behind it – and was accepted as a Catholic Worker.
All of our roles center around servicing the poor.
This involves not only cooking and sheltering (during the months of Oct – Apr) but also providing clothing, sometimes bus tickets, sometimes rental/utility bill assistance, sometimes groceries – the list goes on. If we’re able to help, we do.
I work in an area of the house called Hospitality. It’s the front room where the guests sit and socialize while they’re waiting for lunch to be served. I’m one of the first faces you see when you walk through the door. I assist in getting mail, clothing, food, toiletries, hygiene packs, information regarding services, shower supplies, etc. Mostly what I do is talk with people and listen.
Your heart will break every day, but you have to be able to maintain compassion
I think not allowing yourself to be overwhelmed by the misery that you can see while working in the shelters and soup kitchens is something major to contend with. Your heart will break every day for the people you come to know, but you really have to be able to maintain compassion without allowing it to swallow you whole.
If you do, you’re not helping anyone. Also, dealing with people that have done some pretty awful things and people who you simply don’t like – but still treating these people with genuine respect, kindness and love. Find out more stories here
How I keep going
The men I serve motivate me to keep coming back. I want to be one of the people in their lives that they know will not judge them for their actions, but rather loves them in the way that everyone should be loved; unconditionally.
And No, I never thought of leaving the shelter
Why a magic stick is useless to the shelter
Magic can do nothing for the shelter. The shelter isn’t a disease, it’s a symptom. The homeless, the impoverished and the marginalized are the symptoms of a corrupt system. If I had a magic stick to wave, then I’d say that I’d wish for the people in the US to open their eyes to see the system for what it is rather than be misdirected by the latest celebrity scandal.
Honestly, it’s not going to matter how much money I give them unless the system is changed. We have horrible inner city schooling, high dropout rates, poor to little access to health care and when there is that health care is ridiculously high priced.
You have jobs that pay so poorly that people can’t survive on the wages – they have to rely on government programs that, when you look at them closely, are designed not to assist people but to drive them deeper and deeper into poverty.
Until we construct legislation that benefits the lowest rungs in our society, no amount of money will help because they’ll just end up right back at the beginning.
One last thought
Love each other…. then band together so that we can rip down an unjust government. What benefits the lowest rungs of our society, benefits us all. The sooner we understand that, the sooner we will truly be free.
Sharing our stories say something about what it means to be human. get in touch and tell us yours.