When you spend any amount of time working or volunteering at the Rescue Mission, you start to see that some common myths about the homeless men, women, and children in our community are quickly debunked. I’d like to share these with you, and hopefully shed some light on 7 of these common misconceptions.
- “These people eat better than I do!
Your generosity allows the Mission to provide meals for homeless individuals. Our cooks may get a donation of 30 cans of green beans, spaghetti sauce, and some onions. You bet they’re up for the challenge of making a meal from what they have – just like you do at home when you want to use up what’s left from your last trip to the grocery store.
- They Are Unemployed
So many of the guests and programmers at our shelters are employed, and they are striving to save money in pursuit of their own apartment and other personal goals. Staying in a shelter allows them to sleep well and have a good meal in preparation for the next workday.
- They are Lazy
Laziness: the quality of being unwilling to work or use energy; idleness.
Homeless individuals are a lot of things, but lazy is not one of them. Whether they have fallen on hard times or choose to be homeless, they are on their feet all day, sleeping is nearly impossible due to weather, disturbances and the fear of having their belongings stolen at any moment, and nothing is ‘easy.’
- They are Uneducated
Once I walked into one of our Nampa shelters, and there was one homeless gentleman eating lunch. I began talking to one of the staff, and suddenly I heard someone playing jazz piano. After talking with him, I found that the gentleman, who was homeless, not only had a beautiful talent on the piano, but also had a Masters degree in Marketing.
- There Aren’t Homeless Children in America
It is heartbreaking to tell you, but this simply isn’t true. Mothers and fathers become homeless, and along with them, their children. These children are of all ages, and some parents make the decision to live on the streets or in areas like Tent City, rather than stay in a shelter and recover from homelessness.
- There is No Room for Them
I was talking to a friend yesterday, and she told me she always drives past places like Tent City and wonders, “is there really no room in shelters for those individuals?” “Surely there’s room somewhere in Boise!” There is room! Quite a bit, in fact. The disconnect is that some homeless individuals do choose to stay out in the weather, often due to a disliking of rules that accompany staying in a shelter.
- They are Not Valuable Members of Our Community
This is a tough one. If someone lives on the street and only has the ability to take, not give, how do they contribute to the community? They don’t. Not yet. But they have so much potential to do so. They might even have more potential than most. Should they overcome homelessness, maybe at the same time overcoming a life-controlling issue, they have experience and a testimony that can change lives.
Hopefully, you learned as much from reading this blog as I did from writing it, and I hope it has inspired a new way of thinking about the homeless individuals in our community.