As part of the StreetWise Writing Workshop, participants explored what it truly means to be homeless. Five vendors wrote their own personal essays, so for the next several weeks, we will feature these essays. First, we hear from StreetWise Vendor Andy Allen.
Homelessness can be defined in many ways. Some consider it as being without a roof and a bed at night when you are ready to sleep. Some think you are homeless if you do not have an address or a place to prepare your own meals. Others think it means a separation from family and friends.
However you define homelessness, one thing we might agree on is homelessness is being separated from something you are used to having. If you are familiar with a certain lifestyle and it is abruptly taken from you, you may feel naked, lost and homeless. You do not have a place to recover and to regroup. This displacement can leave a person depressed, lost and confused. This often makes a person feel overwhelmed and the effects can be mental, spiritual and financial. The person is effected emotionally and socially. These negative feelings often lead to drug and alcohol abuse.
If people do not get the help they need, they can quickly fall through the cracks of society and never recover.
There are programs offered by our government and by not for profit groups that can help people. Some people just do not know where to find the help they need.
The vendors at StreetWise try to reach out to people like this and bring them to StreetWise so they can get a job, get help through social services and begin rebuilding their lives. We try to get the news of help to them by word of mouth and through the kinds of news and stories covered by StreetWise magazine. We want them to know there is help available. Being homeless does not mean you have to be hopeless. Let us look around, be encouraging to others and each do our part to help people recover from homelessness, no matter what the cause.