I believe in generosity and charity for the poor and homeless. Many people donate to charities each year, have fundraisers or sponsor certain organizations. Have most of these people witnessed poverty or talked to a homeless person? Do they truly understand the struggles of living on the streets, and not knowing where their next meal comes from? When most picture hunger, poverty, or homelessness, they may imagine foreign nations; however, these conditions are extremely prevalent in our backyard, New York City.
Growing up in the suburban town of Pearl River, a town comprised of mostly middle and upper classes, I am not exposed to homelessness. Recently I took a trip with my church’s youth group to New York City to bring food for some homeless people down to the corner of 22nd St and the East River. As we pulled up around 7:30 that morning, we saw a cluster of people waiting. As we came closer, we saw the anxiousness and thankfulness, and, saddest of all, we saw the hunger in their eyes.
We quickly got to work, unloading the food and setting up, where already the line of people anxiously awaiting food had been formed. Each volunteer had his or her own assignment with the distribution of the food. This was a great experience for me because it gave me a great insight as to how different each individual is. For example, the appreciation of some, the disrespectfulness of others, and the sadness in the eyes of many.
I was especially taken by one man, in particular, who surprised me with his overwhelming knowledge of the Yankees, as he pointed out the origin of their symbol, which he saw on my friend’s shirt. Another humble man showed me his true appreciation by not wanting me to put cream cheese on both sides of the bagel, feeling that it would be too much to ask of me.
I left the city with a whole new perspective on life and with a new found appreciation for what I have. These people teach me to appreciate the things I take for granted each day. During our conversation, we learned that these people cannot stay in the shelters, even though society thinks otherwise. One woman expressed her concern about staying in these shelters, for the risk of being robbed, and, in some cases, raped is strong. People today need to become more aware of the issue of poverty and should learn to reach out a little more to help these people.