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Van Outreach: “But the needy will not always be forgotten…”

February 16, 2010

Feb. 16th, 2010

Monique Muniz, Class of 2013 – Reflection on a Van Outreach “But the needy will not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the afflicted ever perish.”- Psalm 9:18

This past week, along with SERVE (a volunteer club on campus) we gathered in the University Ministry Center in partnership to help those in need – specifically the homeless in downtown Chicago. We put together bagged meals which included a sandwich, a piece of fruit and cookies. We also marked the bags that had different items, in order to give the people we were serving a choice. When living homeless you don’t have many opportunities to make many choices, and must live off whatever you can obtain from your surroundings, living day-to-day on a survival basis.

This experience was very emotional for many of us. We encountered many people who were welcoming and open to sharing their stories. One couple in particular really stood out for me. They asked us for a bus pass so that they could have a warm place to sleep. The man said that he would go to a shelter, but every time he has done so in the past, his belongings have been stolen. It deeply saddens me that someone can’t even go to a shelter because of this and instead has to then sleep somewhere else. In his case, this place was the subway. What really upset me was my feeling of helplessness; I had no idea what I could do to help these people and I so desperately wanted to. We gave them food and they went on their way, telling us that if we were ever in the neighborhood again to come visit them.

What really astounded me was how many homeless people there were congregated by Union Station. I have been so ignorant of the huge problem around me, in my own city! I knew that the rates of homelessness were increasing, but I never realized how great the need really is. What really breaks my heart about these situations is the fact that no one is helping these people. I truly wish there was some way to help them get back on their feet and rebuild their lives. This inspired me to want to work with a program or organization that helps the homeless obtain a job and get back on track. I think this is the best way to help them, and also by giving them spiritual guidance as well. Many people just assume that the homeless are in the place they are because they’r e alcoholics or addicted to drugs. While this may be the case for a percentage of homeless people, it is not always true. I think that people don’t always think about the other influences that affect homeless people. Many have had their homes foreclosed and couldn’t afford to live anywhere else. Some have been living on the streets since their teen years, escaping an abusive household. There are many reasons to take into account when looking at the homeless. It is important to not just look at their situation, but see them as a person, because we are all equal in God’s eyes.

The psalm above causes me to critically think about my duties towards the homeless, especially as a Christian. God calls us to help those in need and for them not to be forgotten. What really strikes me is the fact that the homeless will not be forgotten and if God cares about these people so much, then why aren’t more people willing to help them? I think that as a country we have more often been willing to help out other countries in need, ignoring the poverty and homelessness right before our eyes. It is important to never forget the poor and homeless, for they are our brother’s and sister’s in Christ. This experience has inspired me to work more with the homeless and do my part to eradicate poverty and homelessness.

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