We Are Their Hope

We live as though blind

when we come upon your sight;

so much easier

not to see your plight.

~

You sit here daily

with eyes downcast.

We scurry by quickly

pushing you into the past.

~

Where is your family?

Why are you alone?

How can I help?

You look chilled to the bone.

~

This could be me

in the blink of an eye.

It matters not your story,

no reason to ask why.

~

Let’s just do what we can

for those in great need.

Please don’t turn away

or watch as they bleed.

~

The holidays fast approach,

a particularly tough time.

No delays, no back burner;

now is the time.

© LuAnn Oburn 2012

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49 thoughts on “We Are Their Hope

  • My daughter was stunned with what I did once. When I was living in Leicester in the UK, or I could have been visiting, I’m not sure. I was walking through an alley and this bloke asked me if I had any change and I said no. A minute later, I went back and told him I had lied and gave him a £2 coin. (about $3.50 at the time) I won’t do that now though. If someone is holding a sign asking for money, I will buy them something to eat or drink, or maybe both. Although I did that for someone a couple of months ago, and all she did was look at me as I was scum. I haven’t helped her since.

    • It is so difficult to know who to help, isn’t it? Some are scammers, some only want money. Some aren’t even homeless, just supplementing their income. Having said all that, I think we need to help those truly in need when we can, and I know you feel the same Alastair. I can tell from your writing that you have a good heart.

      • No, I don’t have a good heart, I’m just a good actor.

        In this country we have people who sell The Big Issue (http://www.bigissue.com/) which is for helping the homeless or people recovering from homelessness. Each magazine is £2.50, but the vendors have to buy the magazines themselves. They pay £1.25 for the, and then they keep what they make. The sub header is “A hand up not a hand out”. There’s one in Dover who I will buy the magazine from religiously every week. If I don’t see him one week, he will keep the magazine for me for the following week.

      • I try to help out by feeding the homeless at a shelter or giving to reputable organizations. I know I could do more but, having said that, sometimes the needy are right within our own family, and they must be our priority.

    • I think we are all guilty of that at times. Life, our families, our friends keeps our focus elsewhere. For us, traveling around, what we try to do is find an organization that needs help, whether donations or feeding the homeless and whatever and jump in when we can. I certainly need to do more though. It would be a great NY Resolution.

  • This is poignant! A great reminder… I especially hope to do something outside of myself this season so the girls can start to see and learn kindness. So help me Lord!

    • It is so hard when we have families of our own. I have been better at this since retirement but still feel I could do better. Instead of giving to people on the street, as we don’t know what their true motives are, I try to help out at food banks or by feeding the homeless.

  • There is a fellow where I live who is obviously without a home. He can be seen at one of the ‘take-away’ outlets in the mall. I often see him there early in the morning having a coffee and donut. This surprised me (that he may have money for such luxuries) so I asked the sales girls if they ‘gave’ him the food and drink. They sheepishly replied that yes, they fed him every morning, and sometimes at other times too. Kinda makes you go all gooey inside to know that there is kindness all around.
    When I was in San Francisco in 2010 I saw a lot of homelessness. I won’t give money; however I do buy food. This was met with a lot of thanks… It’s such a difficult problem.
    One of the local banks has a donation bin, and are asking for food/toiletry items for a nearby shelter… There are so many little ways we can help..

    • It is so difficult to know when we see those on the street whether they are legitimately homeless or just working a scam. My heart aches for them either way and I try to do things like feeding the homeless or giving food instead of money. There are definitely many small ways we can help others. Given the state of the economy and the natural disasters that have occurred recently, the face of the homeless is beginning to look a lot different.

  • What a wonderful poem and a good time for a reminder. This reminds me of the story you once told about the man you met at the laundromat. Thank you!

    • Thanks Joan. As I said to another commenter, given the state of the economy and the recent natural disasters, the face of homelessness looks much different.

      • Yes, and I see some everyday when I’m out driving. Sacramento has lots of places along the rivers, where homeless people live. With the weather turning, more shelters will open for them.

  • A nice thoughtful post.
    I try to help or give whenever I can. I wish I could do more. Sometimes I feel like I’m being taken advantage of. But – that’s on them. So sad that anybody would have to do without the basics to live – shelter – food – clothes.

    • And unfortunately RoSy I believe there are those out there that do take advantage of others’ generosity. Sadly with the state of the economy and the recent natural disasters, I think the face of the homeless is changing.

  • Thank you for the beautiful poem, LuAnn! During holidays, we give money to charities that have good reputation instead buying gifts for each other, and have so for many years.

  • It’s so hard to know what to do. I worked for the welfare dept in San Francisco in the 70s at a time when (then gov) Reagan shut down a lot of the mental health facilities. I believe that’s when this homeless problem first got out of hand. There are those out there who simply can’t take care of themselves, but then there are scammers. I have no idea what the answers are, but I’m thankful for the outcome of the latest election. But we can’t expect the President to fix everything given the Congress he still has. We need to back him up in the things we truly care about. (Sorry about the political rant, but sometimes I can’t help myself.)

    • I agree with you wholeheartedly Gunta. My heart breaks whenever I see anyone out on the street, whether of their choosing or not but instead of giving directly to them I try to give to organizations I know are legitimate or work feeding the homeless. For me I know that I just need to remind myself to help whenever and wherever I can. As I’ve said to a few other commenters, I believe with the natural disasters and economy, the face of the homeless has changed.

  • We are living in some very challenging times. It’s easy to forget when I’m out hiking, taking photos and enjoying nature that there are folks with empty bellies. 😦
    That being said…..Javelina’s was yummy….best salsa!

  • A lovely poem at the right time of the year or any other time. Its quite challenging to know who we should help especially when you see that they look healthy and capable of doing something for themselves. But how do i know, i really don’t. We will find ways to offer help or something along the way.

    • We try to help at food banks or soup kitchens, feeding the hungry when we can or give to organizations we know to be reputable. I have stopped giving to those on the side of the road because you just don’t know who is legitimate and who is trying to scam you.

  • Your poem is beautiful and very clearly illustrates how inured we become to the suffering around us. To some extent, in countries like ours, we need to develop a thick skin to survive, or we would be in constant despair. We don’t trust most charitable institution here and the ones we do don’t need our modest contributions! And identifying scamsters from the rest is a tough ask..
    So between my father in law and us, we decided to start closer to home and educate 6 poor children. All children of household help and office staff. One of them graduates from engineering college this year! Doesn’t cost us much. One child’s annual school fees works out to about US$160!
    Is that enough? I don’t know. When we look around us it seems pitifully little. So we console ourselves that we are doing enough and stop looking…..

    • I think we all get caught up in our own lives and tend to push thoughts of the suffering around us into the background. In our country, given the state of the economy and the recent natural disasters, homelessness and hunger are taking on new faces. We here also have difficulty knowing which charitable organizations do the most good or are just pocketing the monies they receive. I long ago stopped giving to those begging on the streets as there are so many scammers out there now, those that own homes and are supplementing their incomes. We tend to volunteer at food banks and soup kitchens when we can, feeding the hungry. What you and your family are doing is so admirable and if everyone who could, would do just a little, imagine how much good could be done. Hope you are having a wonderful weekend Madhu. 🙂

  • this is a beautiful post and strikes a chord about an encounter in nicaragua. the post is patiently waiting to be written, though i am searching for some old photos from archives that seem to be playing hide and seek.

    again, beautiful post. thanks for reminding us not to turn the head and pretend not to see them.

    z

    • I think life takes over many times and we forget about the suffering out there. I know I can be guilty of this. Here in the states, the face of homelessness has changed with the state of the economy and the recent natural disasters.

      • yes, it is scary. i see many people who are looking for alternative places to retire because they fear they won’t be able to stretch their dollars enough in the ‘states.

        i think living in latin america opens ones eyes; whenever i am back in the states, i am shocked at the materialism and how out of balance many things have gotten. for me, less is so much more!
        z

      • You are right, less is definitely more. Living in an RV, you come to realize that soon or you don’t enjoy the lifestyle. We lived in Mexico for one year, traveling around, and were moved by the people there. They certainly had their priorities in line. I see us spending a lot of time in Latin America in the future.

  • LuAnn, this is my first visit to your blog, and as an avid RV enthusiast, I am enjoying it tremendously.

    I just saw that you are currently at San Elijo as camp hosts. How long will you be there? Will be making our first visit to San Elijo beginning December 17, in Site 18, and are so looking forward to it. This is one tough cookie of a campground to get reservations at, so I was thrilled to snag a premium site with both views and hookups.

    Tamara

    • Tamara, thanks for visiting. You are right, this definitely is one tough cookie of a campground to get into and we will be here on Dec 17. Hopefully you will enjoy this area as much as we do. We are in site 16, right across from where you are going to be. Would love to meet you. 🙂

  • Well that’s quite the coincidence then!

    We’ve stayed many, many times at nearby South Carlsbad State Beach, and have previously done a drive through of San Elijo, so I’m confident we will love it. We’ll be bringing our bikes, our running shoes, and our hiking shoes, and are looking forward to an active weekend, December weather permitting. We’ll look forward to saying “hello” when we arrive. We’ll be in a 2417 TrailManor. It’s a hard sided, swing-up trailer, and we are hard to miss as a result. 🙂

  • Thank you Luann for sharing this. Awareness like this ought to spread.
    I can’t celebrate most of the holidays as I am alone. I get offers but I don’t want to ruin a family’s holiday. I realized, I’m alone but with so much gratitude. I spent my birthday and thanksgiving serving meals to the homeless.

    • We spend most holidays alone as well. This year we worked both Christmas and New Years. I know what you mean, not wanting to intrude on another family’s traditions. As soon as we got to SD I tried to set up some volunteer time for us to feed the homeless, starting with Thanksgiving. All volunteer positions were already filled so that was the good news but I felt disappointed. Last year when we were in San Antonio, TX for Thanksgiving we served at a shelter. It was a wonderful experience, something I did quite often when I lived in Phoenix.

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