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Without the security of a door to lock, it’s safer to sleep in broad daylight than to be at your most vulnerable in the dark of night.
A man sleeps in a cardboard box on the sidewalk, while a few feet away some more fortunate souls live in the relative luxury of a real tent. Even though the day is bright and sunny, many of the homeless are asleep. Without the security of a door to lock, it’s safer to sleep in broad daylight than to be at your most vulnerable in the dark of night.
We’ve spotted a man sitting beneath the freeway, his possessions spread out in a mess on a narrow triangle of concrete that divides the intersecting streets on right and left. With traffic whizzing by on either side, he has occupied this spot for the past seven years. Our driver knows him by name and stops the car to deliver a specially prepared lunch. Unlike most of the homeless, this man is a vegetarian, and our standard meal won’t do. John takes out a vegetarian bag and hands it to him. They shake hands and we’re off. Meanwhile across town in the beach communities, another volunteer is well stocked with special food for that area’s Muslim homeless.
It is impossible to come back from a “run” without at least one story. Maybe it was the young man who looked at you like you were a visitor from outer space when you appeared on the sidewalk out of nowhere with food and drink. Maybe it was the fellow reclining against a cold, hard building, whose smile was like the sun coming out. Or the half-drunk older man who struggled to say “Merry Christmas” but didn’t know the English words and ended up hugging you instead while his four companions cheered and treated you like an old friend. Maybe it was the time you had only three meals left, and while you apologized, the four homeless folks graciously assured you not to worry: they would share equally. Maybe it was something humorous, like the man who lost his grip and poured hot chicken soup down your pants leg on that cold December day. Or maybe it was the indefinable emotion that surged through you at the beach the day you stopped a woman from rummaging through a trash bin in search of something to eat and were able to give her a wholesome, properly prepared meal.
Here are people who have lost almost all the things we define ourselves by: homes, possessions, families, jobs, the very self-images we create through where we live, what we own, what we wear, what we do, whom we know, how much money we have. All they have left is their glorious humanity, and somehow that shines through even their degraded circumstances. A thought arises: that same awareness that shines through their eyes, shines through mine and yours. It is the light of consciousness that animates and connects us all. Maybe that is what Swami Brahmananda meant when he said that by serving you begin to see divinity in others and then everywhere. Grateful, I drift off to sleep.
EVERYONE is welcome to volunteer and help make lunches! Please join us and feel the benefits of service. When: The last Saturday of every month Time: 9:00am Place: 2261 W. 28th St., Los Angeles, 90…
Source: Become A Volunteer
These are some of the faces of the homeless. Their just like us, meaning that all of them had jobs, marriages, anniversaries, and children. They are religious, ethical and kind. This would all be discovered if we took the time to stop and talk to them.
We at “Under the Bridges and on the Streets” are having a blanket drive in the month of November, 2015. We are asking for any clean (washed recently or dry-cleaned) heavy blankets that we can give out to the homeless when we meet to prepare nutritious bagged lunches on November 28th at 9:00am. The following is an excerpt from the Sunday N.Y. Times, 6/14/2015
He never wanted to be burdened by things; he remarked, "just what I can put in a small box."
Years passed, and there were months at a time when James was not to be found under his mural. After an absence of a few months, he was back. When I asked where he had been, he reported to me that he had tried to live in a senior living home, but they had too many rules and were not kind to the people there. "I had to leave and come back out here," he said smiling as if he had gotten out of jail.
"Under the Bridges and on the Streets," is a non-profit that I founded for two reasons: One - to serve and provide food, blankets, toiletries where the most difficult to reach homeless have their homes on the streets, and under the iron beams high in the air supporting the freeways. Our goal is to remove as many social and political barriers to serve the homeless where they live, a practice which has now been banned in many cities in America. We currently deliver 600 meals on a monthly basis. We have served since 1993 over four million meals.
Two - I founded Under the Bridges to build a community of service. Service gets you out of yourself, and gradually with consistency and time, your world becomes bigger. You become more significant and less fearful. You realize that you and the homeless are part of the same fabric of life.
John Shinavier, Executive Director