I received my degree in Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, with a focus on developmental and ccounselling from Grenfell Campus of Memorial University of Newfoundland in 2012. It took me 6 consecutive semesters, taking six courses every term and as many as 5 in the summer-months. It filled me with joy to FINALLY have some sort of idea what people were thinking. It also helped me realize why life seemed so much harder, task by task, than some other people; I discovered that I likely had Aspergers Autism. It may be my neurochemistry, my personality or any combination thereof… then again it may not be any, but I think I found a very real solution to the homelessness epidemic and a lingering moral dilemma that has been bothering me. It was staring us all right in the face this whole time, and we had the power to fix much of the issues for a long, long time. That solution is simple… give them a chance. For many woodworkers trying to make a living and trying to make an honest go of a home-business, we can give a homeless person a second chance, and at the same time make use of a valuable human resource at the same time.
The statistics are not unknown: In Canada alone, some sources cite over 300,000 homeless in a nation of 35,000,000.00. Almost 1% of Canadians. Young people aged 16-24 make up about 20% of the homeless population according to Segaert and single adult males between the ages of 25 and 55 account for almost half of the homeless population in Canada (47.5%), according to the Segaert study. Please, please click the following link for more information the source of this data and much, much more.
This is important because we can help. So many people, Canadians and other nationalities alike, lament of never having enough time to do anything, and that we can all agree that homelessness is a problem. It also cannot be argued that mental illness is frequently a contributing factor to this trend, and some others prefer to live “outside the system”, but a third category just lost everything and see no way to claw themselves back into society. Well a few years ago, while working towards my ecovillage research, I found a solution that is also applicable to many people who own hobby shops and have a spare room: Take them in.
Most of these people have skills and if they don’t, they may have the desire to earn what they are given because they, unlike most of us, know what it is like to have nothing. I feel that it is a moral obligation of the Haves to share that bounty with the Have-Nots. Call me crazy. The statistics show that providing the homeless with proper homes is significantly better for the economy than them living on the streets, and providing them a place in YOUR home can significantly improve your economy.
Without permanent addresses, the homeless cannot easily receive social welfare income. By helping them clean up (from drugs, alcohol, and hygienically), they can get back on their feet. This cannot work, of course, for all cases. What prevents a person from sitting with a homeless individual, get to know them, take them out for a meal and talk with them. Find out where they come from, why they are where they are, and if the genuine desire to give up the life as a hobo is hampered by anything that can, or cannot, be mended by government subsidized medication. These are human beings, too, and anyone with the desire to learn can be taught. It is a precious gift, the right to choose, and I do not feel that anyone should be punished by their poor decisions (or by other people’s poor decisions) in such a way. Given the chance, and more importantly the choice, many would prove to be valuable assets, contributing members of society, and most important, new friends.
Having the resource of a homeless person, they exist in many medium-sized towns and nearly every city, having been rehabilitated, and is now receiving a social services cheque to your address. They now see you as their savior, their path to redemption. Until they get back on their feet, they could prove an asset in your woodworking shop, or any other. This would help YOU get on your feet. A perfect example of a symbiotic relationship that benefits everyone concerned. They get a second chance, and the logistical and moral advantages far outweigh the costs of sharing a meal and a few changes of out-grown clothes. One day, this man, woman, teenager you saved from a frigid death this winter could rent or purchase a place of their own, run their own workshop and volunteer at a soup kitchen, finding other down-and-out people who desperately want help while their pleas are being ignored by business people who are in a frantic rush to go no where.
Such a second chance would cost so little, and be worth so much.
Insofar as my original intention, for the ecovillage project, I also thought of fostering children; taking them out of “the system” and taking them into the ecovillage community with each family in the collective to be a foster parent. Homeschooling, teaching skills, behaviour management where necessary and integrating them into the community. The same goes for homeless people. A clean lifestyle, skills apprenticeship, and sufficient ground-rules accompanied by the choice to stay or leave.
We can’t ever forget that they are people, too. They have stories, lives, hopes, dreams, fears and joys. We cannot relegate them to the flotsam we choose to ignore on our beaches, or the debris that litters urban alleyways. If you needed incentive to help them before, consider doubling the manpower of a solo-act in your shop, and they would probably volunteer in exchange for a warm bed and a hot meal, instead of a cold shoulder. It’s a simple offer, and an easy choice.