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Reflections: Homelessness & Holiday Seasons

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“They had good, stable jobs – until the recession hit. Now they’re living out of their cars in parking lots. The sharp, sudden decline of America’s middle class… ” Jeff Tietz

Reflections: Homelessness & Holiday Seasons

Reflections: Homelessness & Holiday Seasons – Reach out and connect Photo: Eric Pouhier

Have you ever been homeless or found yourself in a situation where you felt invisible? Every time I see a homeless person or a panhandler, I try to imagine what got them there. The few times I’ve had a chance to speak with any of them, their stories were as varied as yours and mine. All have not fallen on hard times because of drugs. All are not able to help themselves get the requisite care. Today, my dear blog friend Kozo, wrote a powerful article, Parenting Tips from a Homeless Man, that stopped me in my tracks and brought this subject to the fore. As we go about our holiday preparations and joyful celebrations, we must stop and consider those who won’t be able to sit in a warm room with friends and family. What have you planned to do for the homeless? For charity?

If you get Rolling Stone magazine, you might have read the riveting interview/story on homelessness by Jeff Tietz. The article “The Fallen,” walks us through the ever-changing, shift-shaping lives of several people; families, elderly, young folk coping with homelessness. These are people from all walks of life whose worlds unraveled when they lost their homes, jobs, emotional support system, and perhaps their mental stability. As Jeff put it, “They had good, stable jobs – until the recession hit. Now they’re living out of their cars in parking lots. The sharp, sudden decline of America’s middle class… ” They struggle but hold on to the hope for change.

In the midst of all that pain and suffering, profound changes can occur. Some find new homes, new ways of handling the shame, new meanings about life, about people, and above all, about themselves. On the surface much might not change but on the inside, many are forlorn and crave human connections and conversations,  many have shifted their attitude and their thinking and make the effort to change their circumstances; on the inside, some can while others have mental health issues that stand in their way. We can be a beacon of light by helping to direct them to available services and lending an ear and some help. What would you do differently?…

“The challenge to people like me is, how do you use your capabilities and resources to help support things that are important to you, whether it’s the arts or education or homelessness?” Brian Moynihan

Reflections: Homelessness & Holiday Seasons

Reflections: Homelessness & Holiday Seasons – man sleeping on the street. Photo: David Shankman

In Parenting Tips from a Homeless Man, Kozo covered so many important facets of homelessness that most people don’t consider when they see a person begging for money on the street. In my reply to his post, I mentioned that the point he made that struck a powerful chord with me was “nurturing relationships.” When we think about it,our relationships are the foundation to everything else we experience. Quite often, people on the street have been abandoned by loved ones who no longer want to hear their “story.” They are lied to, scoffed at and ignored. It’s a hard pill to swallow even for anyone with their ego intact. His post brought tears to my eyes because I know someone who is in the throes of homelessness and has family that won’t help. You must read his post.

If there’s anything we truly need to teach our children, it is that, no matter what, family connections are vital to survival.  We must let them know that they will always have a place to rest their heads; even if it means that everyone sleeps on the floor.

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“There are five issues that make a fist of a hand that can knock America out cold. They’re lack of jobs, obesity, diabetes, homelessness, and lack of good education.”

Reflections: Homelessness & Holiday Seasons

Reflections: Homelessness & Holiday Seasons – young homeless girl

There are so many reasons behind homelessness. Some have had mental issues, abusive relationships or financial hardships, whilst others had suffered a gamut of life events that included, for several of them, drugs. But does that justify the disdain with which some in our society sometimes treat them? This might not come to you as a surprise, but every time I’ve spoken to a homeless person, they have appreciated the contact; the connection to someone who stopped to say hello.

The next time we see a homeless family, an elderly person alone, a panhandler on the street, let’s take a moment to say hello. Even “How are you today?” would do. A little change or a simple blessing will suffice … and you will see the glint of gratitude, the humanity in their eyes. Our simple act of acknowledgment reminds them that not everyone pretends they are invisible… For once, you and I will spare them from that pernicious tornado they hide within … the stigma of poverty and invisibility. Thank you!
What are your thoughts? Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you were homeless or felt invisible? Do share. Thank You! 🙂

  Stay Inspired! What are your thoughts? Do share! Thank you.

Positive Motivation Tip: Help others to enjoy the season of joy.

PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All Photos Homeless In Paris, Street sleeper, young girl, via Wikipedia

Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©
Elizabeth Obih-Frank
Mirth and Motivation

82 Comments leave one →
  1. 03/12/2014 1:19 pm

    a post that hopefully reminds us that we are so close to being in this situation…kindness is free… remember to be that way… and pray for those individuals if you yourself has not the means to help…Put them in God’s hands…

  2. 03/12/2014 2:22 pm

    “If there’s anything we truly need to teach our children, it is that, no matter what, family connections are vital to survival. We must let them know that they will always have a place to rest their heads; even if it means that everyone sleeps on the floor.”

    I could not agree more to this. For as long as families can stay together and help each other out to survive, society is on the right track. I think the great dilemma in our western societies is that families cannot stay together anymore the way they should. The reason why families split up can be any amount of reasons but probably mostly has to do with our western style of life.

    • 03/12/2014 4:23 pm

      Auntyuta you are right. I was thinking about that because in many other cultures, the families stay close by and sometimes live together to save. In the west, it’s all about finding your own way. It has good and not so good aspects to it.

  3. Close To Home (@StayCloseToHome) permalink
    03/12/2014 3:36 pm

    It is definitely sad to see homeless folks anytime of year but especially the holidays

  4. 03/12/2014 4:09 pm

    I was on the brink of this myself only 3 years ago. I got sick, my husband got laid off after 17 years. I spent a month in the hospital and we were financially ruined it can happen very easily. At the time I had no debt, 4 vehicles and money in our savings we did everything right but ended up in a perfect storm. It’s very scary. We have fought and clawed and are better than every although now I am disabled but we packed up moved 400 miles away and started over. This Christmas I plan to spend it feeding the homeless at our cities shelter.

    • 03/12/2014 4:20 pm

      Thank you Rena, your story adds a personal touch to the post. Many of us have had periods of financial challenges and it does humanizes us.

  5. Masshole Mommy permalink
    03/12/2014 4:23 pm

    I ran into a homeless person today. It makes me so sad – especially this time of the year.

    • 04/12/2014 6:30 am

      It does bring up a lot of conflicting emotions for most people. Giving some help, volunteering can all make a difference

  6. Nina Garcia Say permalink
    03/12/2014 4:42 pm

    It pains me that so many of our neighbors are dealing with homelessness. It breaks my heart.

  7. Owen's Mom permalink
    03/12/2014 4:45 pm

    After witnessing the box cities in Japan and hearing about how most had been middle class salary men, it changed my thoughts on how I view the homeless. For many of us, even with homes and jobs, we are just a few paychecks away from it ourselves if loss of job or illness popped up.

    • 04/12/2014 6:27 am

      I’m with you on that one. When I saw the box cities, I was surprised but homelessness is global and each of us can fall victim to it. Many, many of us are on the brink but, for the grace of God.

  8. Liz Mays permalink
    03/12/2014 4:59 pm

    I’m guilty of being a little jaded because I’ve been approached so often by panhandlers and aggressive homeless people. It has caused me to avoid contact with them completely. I’ll try to remember that there but for the grace of God go I.

  9. Cathy permalink
    03/12/2014 5:05 pm

    It breaks my heart that this continues to happen in our country and it’s truly frightening because we are all closer to being in a similar situation than we realize. The most important thing for me is to always make sure my kids know to treat everyone they see on the street with respect and compassion.

  10. Cathy Herard permalink
    03/12/2014 5:06 pm

    It breaks my heart that this continues to happen in our country and it’s truly frightening because we are all closer to being in a similar situation than we realize. The most important thing for me is to always make sure my kids know to treat everyone they see on the street with respect and compassion.

  11. Amy Desrosiers permalink
    03/12/2014 5:37 pm

    I hate homelessness, but have been there as a teen when my home burned down. I try my best to always give to those in need; especially these days.

  12. Nicole Mamatofiveblessings Homeschooling permalink
    03/12/2014 6:32 pm

    My heart always breaks when i see this, i think many are really in a hard place but I have also seen some that claim they are homeless and walking out of their block to hold their signs on the corner claiming that they are homeless when they are not. Makes me wonder too.

  13. Tanya Coffman permalink
    03/12/2014 7:23 pm

    It always breaks my heart to see homeless, or anyone struggle. I always say someday when I hit the lottery I’m going to open a shelter….but I am in the class of not being able to afford luxuries of lottery tickets myself. I pray daily for our nation, and families. There is a lot of healing that needs to be done all over.

    • 04/12/2014 6:18 am

      Quite true Tanya, we need a lot of healing in this great country so those who have, can understand that giving and helping the have-nots won’t deprive them of their standing.

  14. Michelle Hwee permalink
    03/12/2014 8:09 pm

    Thank you for sharing, it is so important to reach out to those in need. It is always important to give.

  15. 03/12/2014 9:03 pm

    It always saddens me tremendously to see homeless people and when I think of people who are homeless. It’s true. We never know the reasons why people end up in these circumstances. With the way that the economy is, I always think that this could really be any one of us at any given moment. I definitely plan to really build a great support system with my husband for our children and their families. 🙂

  16. Olfa Turki permalink
    03/12/2014 9:13 pm

    Nobody really takes into consideration how horrible being homeless is until they’ve experienced it; it’s very sad.

  17. 03/12/2014 9:25 pm

    I couldn’t agree more with’s quote! I think lack of judging is the first step.

  18. Debbie Denny permalink
    03/12/2014 9:44 pm

    This is such a great post. Wish for all to have a warm bed.

  19. 03/12/2014 10:26 pm

    This is so sad. No one should be homeless, period. As a people, we need to be putting pressure on our governments for change in this regard. I just read an article today about the government purchasing a multi-billion dollar fighter jet. This amount of money could have purchased a home for every homeless American. There is just no reason, and it breaks my heart.

  20. loisaltermark permalink
    03/12/2014 10:32 pm

    Thanks for raising awareness about this important issue. We all need to have compassion for people who are homeless — it could happen to anyone.

    • 04/12/2014 6:12 am

      Indeed it could. TY! The holiday season is a tough time for many people who don’t have stability in their lives or families who care. It’s an importnat time to be reflective, grateful, and helpful to others.

  21. 03/12/2014 11:12 pm

    This is so sad to read… 🙁 My heart cries when I see people sleeping on the street.

  22. 04/12/2014 12:02 am

    This is very sad. I think so many times they just go unnoticed. I know that even if I don’t have any money to give I always try to acknowledge any homeless people that I see. Here in Oklahoma they actually have their on newspaper its called Curbside. I thought it was a joke at first but its actually an outreach and awareness project. We also have bicycles located all over the city that they can grab and ride.

  23. 04/12/2014 12:28 am

    Reblogged this on frijasroxanne.

  24. 04/12/2014 3:55 am

    Now this is something I believe should be spread out more to the awareness of other people.

  25. Aisha Kristine Chong permalink
    04/12/2014 3:55 am

    Now this is something I believe should be spread out to the awareness of other people.

  26. debbiejeancrochet permalink
    04/12/2014 5:05 am

    Its so true and we tend to only think of these things this time of year, and ignore them all the rest! Growing up in a big city, I saw homelessness all around and unfortunately you kind of become desensitized. It is absolutely an issue to speak with the kids about though, especially now living in the country its something they never see!

  27. Jenni E. {Sweet Pennies from Heaven} permalink
    04/12/2014 7:51 am

    It breaks my heart to see people out in the cold, without a warm home to go to. I don’t see it very often because we live in such a small area but I still do on occasion.

  28. Amanda Love permalink
    04/12/2014 8:05 am

    Homelessness can happen to anyone and I always empathize with them. We don’t know their circumstances or what got them there and I always try and help out whenever I can.

  29. 04/12/2014 8:24 am

    We have a lot of homeless people in neighboring Detroit, and I see quite a few when we visit Chicago. I do sometimes give them help if the vibe is right (and it feels safe to do so). It’s heart-wrenching, no matter the situation. No one should be homeless, for many reasons, but I just can’t imagine what that could do to your heart. 🙁

  30. Victoria permalink
    04/12/2014 9:05 am

    This post reminds me of how quickly things could change i the blink of an eye. We never really know what could happen with the way that the economy is right now.

  31. 04/12/2014 9:16 am

    Beautifully written post, Elizabeth. I had brushes with homelessness as a child, but thankfully my grandparents were usually around to save us. It’s frightening, embarrassing, and mentally draining to even be nearly homeless. They all deserve more respect. Especially this time in our history, when the disparity between the haves and have nots is widening daily.

  32. 04/12/2014 9:31 am

    Very sad Eliz. In my small city homelessness is a problem, but not a massive one. There are a lot of Big Issue sellers, some have had the same spot for many years They can’t all be drug and alcohol users, but a lot are. It’s difficult to know what to do but there are quite a few hostels and charities providing shelter and food. I never give money but I do buy food occasionally.

  33. Ann Bacciaglia permalink
    04/12/2014 9:55 am

    I always try to help if i see someone who is homeless. Even if it is just a quick meal i know i have helped a little.

  34. Nancy (@spiffykerms) permalink
    04/12/2014 11:13 am

    Such a sad reality to see homeless people out on the streets. Especially during the holiday time.

  35. 04/12/2014 4:45 pm

    It breaks my heart to see so many out there without a home to be safe in!

  36. mmgmom permalink
    04/12/2014 8:02 pm

    What a sad place this world has become we have more homeless than ever but yet the government seems fit to send aid to other countries. So sad.

  37. bonniegowen permalink
    05/12/2014 5:16 am

    Yes I have been homeless when I was younger. When I see people out in the cold I always feel so bad for them, they are people too.

  38. Christy Hoover permalink
    05/12/2014 6:37 am

    When I grew up, we always had crappy cars. Which meant we would break down on the side of the road. A lot. And require the assistance of someone having to come to our rescue. It was terrible. But it was the best my parents could do. While I have never been homeless, I aways had a heart to help those less fortunate than me. You never know what person you meet that just simply needs a helping hand.

  39. 05/12/2014 7:43 am

    Everyone should follow as you said! Plan something for the ppl who aren’t cared for.
    If everyone does that, the world will be a better place…

  40. 05/12/2014 8:32 am

    It is surprising to see how quickly the life of person can change by loosing a job. I think in today’s society a job is more than just money or career it is also your social standing and your identity. I think blessed are those who have a family and friends to support them through crisis like this.

    • 05/12/2014 8:57 am

      It is shocking how quickly one can fall into the abyss and then there are those who take advantage of the homeless… all very sad.

  41. 05/12/2014 10:11 am

    I remember when I was young, my mom used to read fairy tale stories before bed time. One night, she read ‘The Little Match Girl’ to me and brought me to tears. I think those who are privileged have no right to rant even the simplest things in life.

  42. Carly Anderson (@lipglosscrayons) permalink
    05/12/2014 12:21 pm

    I feel so bad for homeless people. I couldn’t imagine not having a place to truly call home.

  43. Rebecca Swenor permalink
    05/12/2014 2:54 pm

    This is an awesome post indeed and we all need to do some reflected indeed. Thanks for sharing.

  44. 05/12/2014 8:32 pm

    Homeless is the greatest fear of everyone i suppose. It’s a blessed to have family and loved ones!

  45. 05/12/2014 10:09 pm

    Such a very sad but enlightening post. I really feel for these people.

    “They had good, stable jobs – until the recession hit. Now they’re living out of their cars in parking lots. The sharp, sudden decline of America’s middle class… ” Jeff Tietz

    At least they have their cars to live in temporarily, right?

    Here in my country, the Philippines, people lose their homes, their belongings, their resources, their families even because of natural calamities. I volunteered last year to help victims of typhoon Haiyan and it was REALLY heartbreaking. I came back again last month and was glad to see that people are coping and trying their best to get back on their feet. What saddens me is that these people haven’t fully recovered, yet, and it is possible to happen again this time with typhoon Hagupit. I don’t know how much more these victims (or we, the Filipinos in general) can take? The typhoon hasn’t made a landfall yet but we are already preparing to help… tomorrow I’ll be helping repack goods. I can only hope and pray that Hagupit’s aftermath will not be as devastating as Haiyan’s.

    • 06/12/2014 2:38 pm

      I remember Typhoon Haiyan and the devastation, It was terrible. There is struggle everywhere even if it looks different.

  46. sikat101 permalink
    06/12/2014 12:16 am

    Oh, this is sad. I cannot imagine being homeless. I think we all need each other in this world. We need to have a support system where somebody would reach out to us when we are down or we know where to turn to when life is not good to us. -katrina centeno

  47. Fernando Ceballos Lachica permalink
    06/12/2014 2:03 am

    This article is an awakening to your readers including me. I felt the pain looking at them in the streets but I have nothing to say, just by looking at them. How I’ve sinned when they needed connection.

  48. SharonMomsMadhouse (@MomsMadhousex6) permalink
    06/12/2014 9:44 am

    Homelessness breaks my heart. It’s tragic to realize over 11 million have lost their jobs in the last six years. I pray for them and donate to Catholic charities since they are so involved. We’ve hit a rough patch before and I just remind myself that wherever I am, it’s is where God wants me to be right now.

  49. 06/12/2014 9:55 am

    Nobody wants be in a situation like that, it’s just circumstances that leads them there and any bit of care and sympathy in tough times means a lot.

  50. Fred permalink
    06/12/2014 5:37 pm

    If there is a way to bring every homeless person back to their hometown and families, someone should go do it already. Why are these people on the streets? I’m sure there’s someone out there for everyone.

  51. 3xhcch permalink
    06/12/2014 5:40 pm

    I hope there is some way of bringing all these homeless people back to their hometowns and families. I’m sure there is someone out there for everyone.

  52. 06/12/2014 7:13 pm

    Everything in life happens in a split second, so its really important for us to be grateful for what we have and appreciate it.. very inspirational post.

  53. 06/12/2014 7:47 pm

    Homelessness is a big problem in India but except for the festive season, where everyone wants to do a little charity, nobody really cares about them

  54. 06/12/2014 10:15 pm

    It really breaks my heart to see people especially children on the streets, under some tree or a bus stop, lying down, all dirty, trying to have a good sleep. I can’t imagine the feeling of what they are going through.

    Let me just share, recently, here in the Philippines, a homeless street beggar woman was found by a concern citizen and asked her to go home with her to take a bath. When the beggar was in the showers, she asked the lady to get her clothes from her bag and when the lady opened her bag, she saw lots of money. The lady told the media about it and suddenly, family members came to rescue the beggar. The beggar said she earned that money when she was working but after she left the job, she has no family to go to.

    It’s sad that if you don’t have money, family will not bother to find you. And when I remember that beggar, it makes me think what happened to the others… what’s their story.

  55. 06/12/2014 10:37 pm

    Do you believe in reincarnation? I always wonder why are these people in the homeless situation and wonder how it is related to our past or even if all these is within our control. What do you think?

  56. 07/12/2014 1:42 am

    It’s not a nice thing to happen and no one deserves to not have a home. We’ve been taught that shelter is one of the basic needs of every human being.

  57. 07/12/2014 9:21 am

    This message should be spread to create awareness. Every time I came across a homeless, the scene really break my heart. I really hope we as a society could do something to help this people and maybe one day, we would not have this much of homeless and everyone will have a shelter over their head.

  58. 08/12/2014 12:48 am

    Hope all the homeless ppl found their home sweet home in near future..

  59. 08/12/2014 7:02 am

    Hey! It’s snowing on your blog! It is true that are so many reasons people are homeless…some of them choose it and others not. To me, I think most important it’s not see them as differen..they’re people just like us. It’s shocking how invisible they are for so many and it’s juts near holidays they turn into them to help and make their charity. It’s something we sould do the whole year!

  60. phyliciamarie permalink
    08/12/2014 4:47 pm

    Posts like this and Humans of New York make me want to go out and talk to every homeless person I meet. But it’s so difficult here, because sometimes the homeless people are part of organized crime. It’s sad that lack of family and moral support can drive people to live alone and homeless.

  61. ashleybrookenicholas permalink
    13/12/2014 11:01 am

    I’ve had friends and family members who were homeless at one point another. The holiday season is a great time to go above and beyond to help the homeless!

  62. iaminlander permalink
    26/12/2014 4:29 am

    I was watching this Christmas special episode of a local news here and it features how homeless people celebrate Christmas. It just totally broke my heart. I do volunteer work for the less fortunate people and they really need our help and we must extend our hands to reach out to our less fortunate brothers and sisters.


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