Williamsburg's Homeless & Indigent

P.O. Box 366, Lightfoot, VA 23090
Office: 757-561-3255
"Assisting people in re-gaining hope and a better way of life."

Friday, June 25, 2004

In a recent news article, we learned that 260-plus thousand dollars had been willed to the Hampton Roads’ animal shelter. Wow! What a boon for them! We currently own six dogs and love them dearly. We abhor animal neglect and abuse just as much as the ASPCA, no doubt, but $260,000!? Not that we personally envy the shelter’s being willed the money, but we are “jealous” for the homeless to receive such help. We, Williamsburg’s Homeless and Indigent, during last year’s United Way sponsored “Day of Caring”, helped to paint the local animal shelter. We felt it was an appropriate project: the homeless helping the homeless. We hoped against all hope that somehow this would stir the heart-strings (and purse strings) of the local community to help us help the homeless. But to no avail.
Perhaps this question is politically incorrect, but, why is there is money available for homeless animals and not for homeless people? Our local animal shelter on Waller Mill promises that no dogs or cats will be “put down,” but that caring homes will be found for all of them. Yet, do we not “put down” the homeless people every time we turn down an opportunity to help them? Do we not “put them down” every time we neglect to allow for a homeless shelter in the zoning regulations or to allow low-cost housing to be built? Have we found caring homes for the homeless people? Or, only for the homeless animals? When did America become “the land of the animals” instead of the land of “the free and the brave”? Many of the people with whom we have to deal are military veterans: people who have defended our rights to be the free and the brave. Why are feral cats given more care and consideration than our “street-bound” veterans? Why are vicious dogs given more health care than the very people who were trained by our country to be vicious killers? At least our military men only kill and maim when given the order to do so.
We all recognize that animals are the product of their environment. Yet we would rather point a blaming finger at the homeless vet’s than admit that we, society, made them that way. We pity hungry children and send our monies over-seas, yet we can’t admit that the homeless outside the local grocery store are also to be pitied, not scorned. Who doesn’t try to pet the stray dogs or cats and give them some table scraps or bowls of milk? Yet, when was the last time we tried to care for the needy? When was the last time we bought an extra sandwich at the deli and carried it out to the gentleman on the bench? We know that stray dogs and cats could bite us or carry transferable diseases, yet we go out of our way for them. When was the last time we went out of our way for a homeless person? When was the last time a homeless person bit us? Why are we so scared of them? Why are they so scared of us? Is it because they have been hurt so often they can’t trust anyone anymore?
It’s time to wake up, America: Humans are humans, and animals are animals. We can pass all the laws we want supposing that from Washington we can somehow eliminate homelessness. But the truth is, until we offer them some personal attention, some love, and some hope, they will stay right where they are: on the streets.
Our news is replete with stories about people being prosecuted and jailed for animal abuse. If you don’t believe it, check out all the “animal police” shows on the “Animal Planet.” Some people even get 12-15 years for killing a litter of puppies. Yet, if we kill a homeless person, we can get off with 5-7 years. Are animals that much more important than humans? Is this not imbalanced? No wonder the homeless feel so hopeless. If we would start treating the homeless as human beings, maybe they would respond less like the animals we think they are and more like the people they wish they could be. Each one of them had at one time hopes and dreams. Each one of them had their hopes dashed; whether by their own choice or someone else’s. Who’s to say until you ask? But deep inside, the homeless are no different than you and I are. Each of them longs for love. Each of them longs for acceptance. Each of them has the potential to rise above his present circumstances given the right opportunity and consistent encouragement.
The question is, what are you, Williamsburg, doing to help them? We are one of the wealthiest communities in America, and we‘re proud of it. Yet, the homeless are denied mere acknowledgement of their existence, let alone real help. But, try to follow my logic:
1) The average smoker goes through one carton per week: that’s $1000/year.
2) The average drinker goes through $30 per week of beer or wine: that’s $1500/ year.
3) The average family spends $400 per month on entertainment: that’s $4800/year.
Then there’s all the soda we drink, the trips to the amusement park, the extravagant clothes we buy, the new car every two years, etc. Would it be that much of a stretch to cut back a little and donate the money to a worthy cause? Would it break the bank for us to give $100/month/each out of the interest on our millions? We think nothing of spending $35-50,000 on an SUV but hesitate to give $30-50 to the homeless. “Where a man’s treasure is, there will his heart be also,“ Jesus said. I ask you, Williamsburg, where’s your treasure? Where’s your heart? What will you do to make a difference?


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