A Bottle of Water and a Pair of Socks
It’s really hot outside. We are in the midst of a heatwave and its supposed to be like this for most of the remaining summer. I spend most of my day in an air conditioned office, an air conditioned car or my air conditioned home. I have access to plenty of cold clean water to stay hydrated and bathrooms to deal with drinking all of that cold clean water. And still, I find the heat miserable and difficult to manage.
Imagine, for a moment, if you couldn’t get out of the heat… ever. You’re in it all day, and you sleep outside with the humidity all night. You don’t have access to clean water to stay hydrated, and when you do get some, you have nowhere to go to the bathroom. This is life, every day, for homeless people.
We often think we can’t do anything for individuals, or we think that water or food isn’t going to change their situation. I work with people who are homeless every day and see myself as a systems changer, not necessarily a people changer… but the truth is that kindness and sustenance are just as vital as systems change. People need water, food, facilities, and a little bit of kindness to survive.
We all come from different places, and I can only speak from my Catholic experience but I think it rings true for many of our religious and cultural teachings.
I try to rely on the works of mercy as a guide:
- To feed the hungry.
- To give drink to the thirsty.
- To clothe the naked.
- To shelter the homeless.
- To tend to the sick.
- To visit the imprisoned.
- To bury the dead.
I have three simple suggestions for the summer that will make a tremendous difference in someone’s day, but I bet you can think of some others:
- Carry an extra bottle of water and offer it to someone who needs it. I keep a case in my car and hand it out to panhandlers at traffic lights.
- Carry a few lunch bags filled with water, fruit and protein bars to offer people who are hungry. Helping to pack these “lunches” is a great teaching experience for children.
- Carry new socks to hand out. Homeless people, because of lack of laundry facilities and showers, and because they spend so much time walking, are always grateful for the feel of a pair of clean socks.
Be thankful for your life situation. I know I am, as I am thankful for all of you that support our work at Pathways to Housing PA.
About the Author
Chris Simiriglia is in leadership at Pathways to Housing PA. She firmly believes in what Mr. Rogers’ mother taught him about sad and scary things. She told him: “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping”. Let’s be the helpers.