Homelessness is growing in Nashville right along with the never-ending boom, evenduring COVID. The increase in the cost of living means that more people are on the streets. Thousands of men, women and children are going without the basics.
When my oldest son was little, our family had a frequent visitor — a homeless man named Joe. We met Joe one Sunday morning at church. We had seen him around before in a nearby neighborhood, but this day was different. We didn’t just want to shake hands with the man and point him the direction of the food line; we wanted to bring Joe home to our house for dinner.
I must admit that I was a bit nervous. I had never met someone who lived on the street. I had never called a homeless man by name. And I had certainly never asked a stranger to come to my house for a hot meal.
When Joe left our house later that afternoon, I realized that I had learned something very important. I learned that even though I don’t have money to buy fancy presents, I can give something that is priceless. I learned that even though I can’t fix a person’s problems, I can give something that makes him feel a bit better. I can give dignity.
I demonstrate this by taking time to say hello and shaking hands, by calling a person by name, by having someone to my house for dinner. Even though Joe walks the streets and sleeps in shelters, he is a human being. Having a job and a roof over my head at night doesn’t make me any better than him, it just means that I have more responsibility to share what I have with others.
Joe came back to our house multiple times after that Sunday. Sometimes he came to say hello or get his haircut or wash his clothes. Whenever he came, we welcomed him. It’s been many years, many moves, many life events since I’ve seen Joe. I think of him often and wonder how he is. He changed my life forever and for that I am grateful.
My kids & I have started a tradition that helps us stay mindful of our brothers & sisters on the street. Will you join us?
Pack a 1-gallon plastic ziplock bag with toiletry items (toothbrush & toothpaste, deodorant, hand sanitizer, wet wipes, lotion, lip balm, comb, etc.), healthy snacks (fruit bars, beef jerky, dried fruit, dark chocolate, etc.), socks, and gloves. Be sure to include a handwritten note. Donate these to your local homeless shelter or pass them out yourself when you see someone in need as you drive around town.
Share pictures of your bags on our Love In A Big World Facebook page.