Homeless people are all over America. Every city, town and village has people that don’t have a roof over their head, a place to keep their possessions or a cupboard to store their food in. Their roof is often the stars, or a used Walmart tent. Their closet is a backpack and their cupboard, well, they live from meal to meal, so they don’t need shelves for the food they don’t have.
The homeless are often seen as throw-away people who have given up on hope. While that might be true for some, many people are working quietly to restore that hope. While most Americans were settling down Sunday to engage in the annual orgy of football, other people were busy doing something about the homeless in their town. Their stories should make headlines. But in a country where someone who can carry a brown, leather ball makes one hundred times as much as an educator, these people are unknown. Much like the names of the homeless we see every day.
Here are three of their stories.
A Very Special Boy
Keegan Keppner has a glioma. It’s a cancer that attacks the brain and spine. He also is afflicted with hydrocephalus, a condition in which fluid accumulates in the brain. As if that weren’t enough, his mom and stepdad are unemployed. Despite the challenges that would make most adults want to quit, the ten-year-old from Eugene, Oregon, wanted to be sure that the homeless wouldn’t go to bed hungry.
Keegan and his stepdad, Steven Macgray, cooked up some beans and rice on Super Bowl Sunday. In Eugene, there were 18 people that were being thrown out of their tent community, and Keegan didn’t want to see them suffer.
Minnesota Teen Sleeps Outside
The polar vortex brought snow and ice to cities throughout America. It shut down schools, factories, offices and kept people stuck inside for days. One thing it couldn’t do was keep a 17-year-old from his mission.
Rudy Hummel of Minnesota stayed true to his calling when the temperature dropped to 27 degrees below freezing. The 17-year-old youth started a personal challenge in June 2013 to sleep outside to raise awareness in his small town about the homeless.
When summer turned into fall, the Hermantown resident decided to expand his challenge and spend one entire year sleeping outdoors. His efforts have raised over $1,000 for Habitat for Humanity.
Burrowing each night into a pile of blankets, the youth doesn’t let the cold bother him. “I’m about as warm as I would be inside, I think,” he recently told CNN.
Boston Is Working for the Homeless
A non-profit in Boston is working with formerly-homeless veterans. The program is taking veterans who were previously homeless and putting them onto the cities’ streets to reach out and help other veterans who are still homeless. Homeless people are not very trusting. It can be a different story though when someone who used to be homeless reaches out to them. The homeless tend be more receptive to advice given by people who have “been there, done that.”
Since the program has been in place, Boston has seen a 15 percent drop in the number of homeless vets. While the latest count shows 458 are still on the street, Boston is seriously considering doubling the size of the program over the next twelve months.
Homeless people are not just blank faces without names that stare while waiting on a hand out. As the US economy continues to sputter, more middle class will slide into poverty and more poor will slide into the street. Fed up with government dysfunction, many groups and individuals throughout America are reaching out to do something constructive for the homeless in their community. And with their efforts, they restore a little hope.
By Jerry Nelson