Homeless for the Holidays
Quite awhile ago, I wrote a post about what it would be like to be live with just the possessions I can carry. I admit, I still have a lot of stuff and, due to changing economic times for teachers in New Jersey, a lot less money to pay for the house to keep them in. Just as I began thinking I had it bad, I got an email from my Mom. Both of my parents are retired, live in Plano, Texas, and are very active in their church and community. My Dad made a decent living and retired relatively young, and my Mom worked part-time once my sister and I left home primarily in the library system. I don’t ever remember not having what I needed and just about everything I wanted growing up.
My mother especially has always valued volunteering, and the two of them seem to give more rather than less as they get older. They organize the adoption of Head Start families each year by church members who provide gifts of necessities along with toys for the kids; they have 144 families they’re working with for Christmas 2012. This year, they’ve added helping homeless families.
Earlier today, I received the following in an email from my mother:
Tuesday night for the first time I volunteered to be a part of the Family Promise program at the church. I took the training for the program which provides shelter and food for a homeless family for a week. We had 3 families signed up: a family of 6 with 4 children and 2 families of single mothers with little boys 3 and 5 respectively. I got to share a meal and help with the 2 smaller families as the larger family was coming in later in the evening after the middle schooler’s football game.It was a learning experience for me and enjoyable. The two little boys were so dear. There are toys and books for them there, but I took for each of them a new coloring book, crayons, and a board book each on trucks that they could take with them. Both boys were shy, but the books really drew them out. They talked about what was in the books and were happy to hear the story over and over. The 5 year old boy did a really good job of coloring and he and I put his picture on the refrigerator in the dining area. Another family and Dad and I provided a dinner of brisket, vegetables, and rolls. One of the moms was especially appealing, the parent of the 3 year old. She is trying so hard to get ahead and go back to college, but day care and the lack of an apartment are real challenges in her days.
The purpose of this post isn’t to garner admiration for my parents or their friends and neighbors. Rather, I’m just going to ask you to take a moment and realize just how lucky you are to have a home, food on the table, and access to the internet so you can read this post. In these bad economic times, hardship is relative. As we approach the holiday season, instead of thinking about how few presents you’ll have under your Christmas tree, perhaps you can find a way to give to someone who may not have a home in which to decorate a tree or the means to provide presents for their children.
Thumbnail courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons.