As a United Samaritans Foundation volunteer, I recently had the opportunity to meet and speak with many homeless and other less fortunate individuals in our community. Our survey team interviewed more than 300 clients served by the organizations weekday lunch trucks at various locations throughout Modesto and Hughson, collecting data for future grant purposes.
Though some exhibited forms of mental confusion and the repercussions of drug or alcohol abuse, the majority of the lunchtime crowd appeared to be calmly resigned to their struggles. Genuine camaraderie echoed from within their community as they greeted each other and encouraged participation with our questions.
A deep sense of compassion and awe at their humility overcame me, as I wondered what circumstances had brought them to this moment. Their sun-worn faces, disheveled hair and spotty grins all reflected the challenging life situations or poor choices that had led to the difficult lives they lived.
So what can a community do to help individuals rise above these challenges and to prevent others from struggling down similar paths?
Various provisions come to mind: a) education and jobs; b) mental health care; c) more entitlements; d) less entitlements; e) drug and crime prevention programs; f) strong families; or g) faith-based communities. Unfortunately, answers dont come easy, so perhaps the best answer is: h) all of the above.
Progress can be made with a concerted effort by all sectors. The generous work of the United Samaritans Foundation is one such endeavor. But we can all make a difference.
It starts by valuing every individual, modeling responsibility and doing what we can to serve those in need.