Posts tagged ‘homeless’

Beyond One’s Own Problems

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I work with a social/educational/recreational group for teens with disabilities.  When first getting this group together at the beginning of the school year, I asked them what they wanted to do as part of our program.  Every single one of them said they wanted to “help other people”.  Here are students with a variety of disabilities and medical needs, and they wanted to help others! They were mature enough to look beyond their own problems to the problems of others.

Various suggestions were tossed about; opening a soup kitchen, visiting with the elderly in nursing homes, working at the local pet shelter, and so forth.  I suggested the easiest thing to do would be something we could do as a group within our program.  They chose making sandwiches for the homeless.

Every other Saturday we meet.  Yesterday we had some social skills activities, some recreation, (does anyone remember the game Simon?), and then they all baked cookies and made sandwiches.  As they were working, they chatted happily, teen music playing in the background.  When one song came on, they all broke out into what I call “dancing like you are riding a horse”.  (I am sure all teens will know what I am talking about, even if parents don’t.)  As soon as the song stopped, they all went back to their sandwich making. It was hilarious!

They worked as a team and made 165 sandwiches and twelve dozen cookies. As they worked, they talked about who might get to eat them, what kind of bad luck may have fallen upon that person and so forth.  They talked with much empathy, and not once during their conversation did they mention their own problems.  They were caring about the problems of others.

After the sandwiches were made, I drove up to Traveler’s Aid, a local spot where the homeless hang out.  The kids got out of the car to bring the sandwiches and cookies in.  They helped each other.  One girl in a wheelchair held a box of sandwiches on her lap while a girl who is blind held onto the wheelchair as her sighted guide.  (Instead of a using a guide dog, she was using a guide wheelchair!)  I stood back as they went into the building and delivered the goods. They were so proud.  The large group of people milling about parted like the Red Sea, and left them easy access to the front desk where they would be dropping the food off.  They walked and wheeled to the front desk which, fortunately, was wheelchair accessible.  The crowd murmured appreciatively, politely, thankfully.  The kids faces beamed as they turned around and came back to the van.  They were no longer disabled, but capable of helping others.  Suddenly, their problems were not as bad as the people who thanked them; people without shelter and food.

 

The Apple Tree: Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities and Remaining Sane

I Looked in the Mirror and I saw a Homeless Person…

My husband and I decided to go to our little cottage in New Hampshire for the weekend to rest up for the upcoming holiday festivities.  I filled the car with all of the Christmas present in order to wrap them in peace and quiet.

On Friday morning, we got up at 5AM so Raymond could spend a few hours working in a town a few hours from where our house is.  Those who know me or who have read my book know that I get carsick easily, so for the ride I generally spread out in the backseat with a few pillows and comfy blankets and snooze.  I was still snoozing when he got out to do his job, and, I’m embarrassed to say, I slept for another three hours!

When I woke up, I was desperately thirsty, and of course had to go to the bathroom.  I slowly sat up and looked out the windows, spotting a McDonald’s nearby.  I was joyous.  A hot cup of tea! A bathroom!  I maneuvered myself out of the backseat, threw on my husband’s old coat, (which looked to be warmer as it was snowing heavily outside,) and started walking toward the gleaming golden arches.  (Okay, that last part was a lie as they do not have golden arches anymore, but I was still half asleep, so I can’t be blamed…)

I have been suffering from an inner ear disorder lately; one which cause my balance to be “off”.  I wobble back and forth, and sometimes stumble and trip unless I have something to hold onto.  As I walked to McDonald’s, of course I was in open space, so my walking resembled someone who was drunk.   Embarrassed by my weaving, I snuck around the back of the restaurant and entered through that back door near the bathroom.  Once safely inside, I looked in the bathroom mirror, and I gasped.  A homeless person stared back at me, and it was ME! (And I mean no offense to the homeless…) One side of my head was flattened, complete with pillow marks on my face and a line of drool from my mouth.  The other side was fluffed straight out like half of a Bozo the Clown.  I wet my hair, and looked in the mirror again.  I looked like a drowned rat!  I also noticed that Raymond’s coat was way too big, had a pocket that was ripped, and had oil stains on it.  I was horrified!  Not so horrified, though, as to sneak out and go back to the car.   NO!  I wanted that caffeine too badly.  So, I wobbled out to the service counter, gathered all of my dignity, and ordered a hot tea.  It was poured and put on the counter, and I gave them my credit card to swipe.  (Isn’t crazy in this day and age that I always use my credit card for everything?)  The card was declined.  There I was, standing there at the counter, looking like a drunk homeless person, staring at the server like a deer in headlights.  What?  My charge is declined? I was mortified.  He was not going to budge.  No money….no tea.  With a huge sigh of relief I looked in my wallet and found that $20 bill hidden in that secret compartment in case of an emergency.  This definitely qualified…

I took my prize and wobbled back to the van, where I settled down again in the back seat, happily drinking my tea.

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