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."

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Worse Than Homeless

So many of our friends when they come to our home seem as if their whole world has crashed down on them. With not much to say in the beginning, many just sit and stare at the TV or fight the tears inside them.

Whom am I referring to? The homeless. But what could be worse than being homeless? Being hopeless.

But, with a lot of work, trust, sharing and caring, one can see the sparkle slowly make its way into their eyes. Eyes that once seemed lost in gloom begin to shine, monotone voices begin to fill with laughter and frowns become turned upside down. Small problems that had been mountains in their lives soon become petty molehills as they regain hope.

When I told everyone that we have to shut down, tears built up in each person's eyes as they asked questions like, “They don't offer help to us, and we find somebody who cares and they take them away from us!” and the inevitable, “Where will we go?”

With all the attention from the media, there are a few things that have not been pointed out about our friends who live with us. Since March 2002, we have assisted 14 people into homes or apartments who had been living on the street or in their cars. In the past year, 14 people have come to know the Lord, three people rededicated their lives to God, five people have been baptized and five have joined our church, York River Baptist.

During United Way's “Day of Caring,” nine of the homeless dedicated their day to assist in projects for people in need throughout the community. On Thanksgiving Day, eight of them prepared and delivered more than 80 meals to people in the weekly motels. Each Thursday, several of our friends handed out food to low-income families who came during our food ministry. Throughout this time, we've all worked together to help one another with problems. It's like having a homeless support group.

Through the years, people have stereotyped those who are homeless. “The faces of homelessness are changing” has become my campaign slogan. The homeless aren't to be feared. If anything, they are more scared of you than you should be of them. Such as the 20-month-old and 4-year-old who stayed here with their parents. There was no drinking or drug problem in the family. Their father had become sick and couldn't work, yet hadn't been able to get disability. They had sought help from every avenue, but could not find a home.

There are a few among our community who have addictions, but does that mean they don't deserve to eat? United Way's slogan this year is “What Matters.” What matters shouldn't be us, but those who need to feel they matter.

I do not deny that I have broken rules. From the beginning I have tried to go about obtaining a shelter through the legal avenues, but was denied because the officials didn't want a shelter. But what is so wrong in helping people in need? Our intention was never to house people indefinitely, but to show them hope through God's grace and help assist them back into the community.
Patti McKenzie



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