And at every street corner you see . . . panhandlers. Panhandlers are the visible among the invisible.
At last count there were 1300 homeless men, women, and children in the Metro area. Many struggle with addiction, mental illness, and domestic abuse. Some are veterans. The chronic or episodic homeless are the invisible, you have to know where to look to find them.
It is believed that many panhandlers are not "really" homeless. There are many reasons why a person would be willing to wait in the elements for someone to notice them. Whether homeless or just needy- I have learned the "why" really isn't my business.
My teacher is Rick Swyden. He is an ordinary person who does extra-ordinary things. Rick's ministry began on a trip New Years Eve in 2002 when he took the time to make eye contact and conversation with a man on the streets of San Antonio. The first Sunday returning home Rick and his wife Susan made some hot dogs and brought bottled waters to the streets, alleys, vacant lots, and back-roads of downtown OKC. Rick hasn't missed a Sunday in eleven years. He is known on the streets as "The Hot Dog Man" and his mission has grown to include young volunteers at schools and churches who decorate the bags, church groups who ride along to bring clothing, and whoever else wants to show up and help. Rick taught me that eye contact and a smile feed the deepest hunger- loneliness.
There are no easy solutions for hunger, homelessness, and loneliness. But ordinary people are doing extraordinary things- would you like to help?
5 Ways You Can Help:
- Pick a Sunday to ride along with the Hot Dog Man.
- Donate water, white socks, or blue jeans to Sister B.J.'s Pantry.
- Donate financially to Rick or Sister Barbara's ministries or the main shelters that provide for our chronic homeless in OKC.
- Create a winter care package. A gallon size bag will hold items easily and can be distributed from your car.
- Don't forget to make eye contact, smile, and say hello when you see a lonely, hungry, or homeless person. Yours may be the only kind contact they have received in a very long time.
|(Approximate cost $3. Hat @ Walmart, Gloves @ The Dollar Store)|