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Negative Ideas About the Homeless Community, Essay Example

Pages: 3

Words: 688

Essay

Introduction

Many people have negative ideas about the homeless community. Sadly, I was one of those people. Because the homeless population is often stigmatized by others, it can be difficult to see them as people. There are many negative stigmas about the homeless being drug addicts, rapists, and thieves. I had certainly heard them all. So, when I was asked to complete this assignment I decided to complete a task that would be meaningful to me. Certainly, I was afraid at first. I did not know what the experience would be like or how I would feel after the experience. I decided to volunteer at a local soup kitchen during the week of Thanksgiving.

Initial Meeting

When I arrived for my initial meeting about serving at the kitchen, the manager briefed me on the dos and don’ts. She explained that many of the people I would encounter were genuinely in need and ended up in their situation due to hard circumstances. She explained that some had been drug addicts, while many still suffered from the addiction. Because of their addiction they had lost their jobs, families, and homes. Yet, others were suffering from mental illness. Some had been the victims of traumatic experiences like war. While others were just the victims of hard times. As I sat and listened to her, I still had a preconceived notion about the people I would encounter. After the meeting, she allowed me to tour the kitchen and see what a day would be like serving the homeless. I received and apron, name tag, and hairnet. I rode home quite a bit uneasy about what tomorrow would be like.

The Big Day

That morning I woke up early to prepare myself mentally. I put on my apron, name tag, and hairnet and made the journey to one of the local soup kitchens. When I got there, there were many homeless people already in line. As I served the food, I remember thinking what if this was the only food I would receive each day. I thought back to the breakfast I had half- eaten that morning. I thought about how grateful some of these people may be to get what I had thrown away. For some time, they seem to just pass through the line and I served them without much notice. However, when I saw a woman, man, and two small children my heart stopped. This was an entire family. I wondered what could have happened to cause an entire family to become homeless. I looked at them closely and the mother and father did not look like drug addicts. They looked like normal people. The children were toddlers, so they were unaware of the situation they were in.

Reflections

This experience caused me to reflect upon my own life. I am very thankful for what I have. While looking and listening to some of the people who were using the services of the kitchen, I realized that homeless people are no different from people who are not homeless. They have the same issues, needs, and feelings that everyone else has. I felt ashamed of myself for the way I had felt prior to this experience. After this experience, I was reading some information about the homeless population and it stated that many ordinary people could find themselves homeless if they lost their jobs or became too sick to work. I imagined if either of my parents had lost their jobs when I was in high school. What would we have done? I tried to imagine what it would be like to have to live with someone else or the possibility that no one would allow us to live with them. I must say that all of these thoughts drove me to tears. I just kept thinking about the family I saw with the two small children. It would be a parent’s worst nightmare to not have a place for their children. Not knowing if they would be able to feed them from one day to the next must be heart wrenching.

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