At a young age I knew nothing about what it meant to be homeless. Being in America my mother would always say to me that I should never waste my life like the people that came to the car windows asking for change.
Being from another country, she always pointed out that If life in America was hard for Americans then it was extremely harder for immigrants.
She would always tell me that I should stay in school, get a good job and don’t become like the people living on the street.
Homeless people were lazy. Homeless people were bums. I never wanted to be like them.
But, at 16 years old I became homeless.
I was without a home. Everything I thought I knew about homelessness was wrong.
At 16 years old, I was homeless with no idea of how I was going to survive. At that time in my life, I never knew about programs that helped homeless teens and being an immigrant, I feared going to the police.
But, I had a village of complete strangers that helped me in my time of need.
Some days were extremely hard, and I almost dropped out of high school. There were days I went without food, sleep and feminine hygiene products.
I will never forget the day a random stranger on the street stopped me. She pulled me aside to let me know that I had blood on the back of my pants. She gave me $10 to buy a pair of tights and handed me pads that she had in her bag.
I don’t think she realized how much it meant to me because she didn’t know my story, but she cared enough to help me, someone she never met before.
What is homelessness?
The dictionary’s definition “the state of having no home”.
But what does homelessness mean to you?
The hard truth that many won’t admit is that they don’t care. Most people look at homeless individuals as though they are less than human being and instead of passing on a simple act of kindness to someone in need, they pass judgement instead.
At a young age I was naive because I didn’t know what it meant to be homeless. Growing up I was taught homeless people are bums but that far from the truth.
I met and worked with many homeless individuals, teens and adults. While most homeless individuals are homeless because of losing their home due to poverty, some are homeless because of domestic violence, sexual abuse, human trafficking or because their gay.
A simple act of kindness goes a long way. Even though they’re shelters and programs to help homeless individuals even those programs need help. Many shelters don’t have enough beds, hygiene products or funding to help end homelessness. Many shelters are not safe and sometimes that’s why we see homeless individuals on the streets.
Homeless individuals are often turned away from shelters because they can’t help, as a result homeless individual sleeps on the street, in abandoned houses or warehouses, parks etc. Homelessness doesn’t discriminate and neither should you.
Over the years, I’ve been blessed by simple acts of kindness by random strangers. Because of those helping hands I can help others.
In Philadelphia, 15,000 people (includes families) access shelter in Philadelphia each year. In addition, numerous individuals are turned away from shelter due to capacity.
In 2015, homeless outreach organizations engaged over 6,500 individuals living on the street, in cars, abandoned buildings, train/bus stations, and other places not meant for human habitation. Source www.projecthome.org
On March 3rd, ITAVFoundation and I will be preparing 1200 sandwiches to help homeless individuals in the Philadelphia area. In addition to feeding the homeless, we’re also putting together care packages with hygiene products and feminine hygiene products.
How can you help?
By donating $5 you’ll help us provide for those without a home.
You can also help by purchasing supplies needed for our Toiletry kits on Amazon.
In addition, we are writing inspiration/motivation notes to place on each sandwich. A little word of encouragement can brighten anyone’s day.
You can participate by writing notes and mail them to:
702 N. 3rd St
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Small deeds done with great love is the most powerful way we can help change the world.