For many, the New Year brings new resolutions and new beginnings. For the homeless, it’s a time of anxiety. For one thing, many wonder if their health will hold out another year while others wonder how long it will take to find permanent housing, a living wage job or enough food to eat for their kids. Then there are the bittersweet “feel good” stories we read about. Many of you have seen my posts about a homeless vet known in the city of Kent as Gandalf. Gandalf has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and knows his time is limited. During Christmas, folks who read about him donated funds to put him into a hotel room for over a week. Within that time, he looked healthier and smiled more often because he had a place to sleep and rest for awhile. I often wondered if Gandalf had any family members to take him in but as I listened to his stories about his life, it became increasingly clear that he had nowhere to be but on the street. I saw a woman on Facebook with the same last name as his so I took a chance and sent her a message. To my surprise she replied saying she had been looking for him. I wanted Gandalf to have a good holiday so I arranged a surprise visit for Michelle to meet her father. She was anxious because she had no idea if he would accept her or what his reaction would be. All in all it turned out to be a good reunion and Michelle was and still is determined to make the most of the time her father has left. A little while ago, she sent me a message saying that Gandalf had called from the hospital and she was on her way to pick him up since he agreed to stay with her for awhile. For these two, it would seem that the New Year means a new beginning to their father and daughter relationship and although it may turn out to be brief, they have a chance to talk and be together before it’s too late.
For the homeless youth in the city, things are just as bad as they ever were and steadily getting worse. Homeless teen Angel became sick with the flu because she lives in a tent with her boyfriend Matt. Once again, donations from readers and supporters got these two into a hotel room for the night and a friend of mine dropped off orange juice, crackers, sandwiches and cold medicine to help them feel better. Angel’s Christmas wish was for a camera so I gave her one. With it, she managed to show what the “campground” looks like on the way to their tent:
Here is a picture of the water under the bridge many homeless walk under to get to their tents:
And here is what the ground is like for many homeless campers:
Hopefully, the homeless youth will get the help they need to lead productive lives but that all depends on whether or not they get the services they need when they need them along with housing. Many programs for homeless youth have been eliminated and youth are finding it exteremely difficult to get jobs especially if they have any kind of record which usually happens when they get desperate for food or money. Add to this the danger of being attacked and robbed for whatever little you do have and it becomes clear why so many youth turn to drugs or violence just to survive.
While I continue to seek better opportunities for myself, I will continue to do what I can to help local homeless youth and well, the homeless population in general. I never was one for New Year’s resolutions because every day I resolve to do better than the last. I pray good thoughts for you and yours as you travel on a path of self discovery and should you find real happiness along the way, hold on to it for as long as you can. The only things we truly own are the memories we create both good and bad. May the ones you create in the new year be good, may the bad ones be lessons learned but above all, remember how to love.