In today’s fast paced society, I sometimes wonder if we have stopped seeing the humanity that is right in front of us. Recently some friends and I were discussing homelessness in downtown San Francisco, and asking when it became socially acceptable to walk by and ignore people on the streets. We get caught up in juggling the busyness of our everyday lives, and we never seem to find the time to help.
My friends and I decided to brainstorm ideas on how we could connect with the homeless. We assembled 35 “homeless kits” containing toiletries, clothing, and non-perishable food items, put on our Santa hats, hopped in our cars and drove up to San Francisco. It didn’t take long to find a man sitting on the corner in a wheelchair, who wasn’t wearing any shoes. As I got closer to him, I could see that his feet were bloody. I kneeled wished him a happy holiday and asked what size shoes he wore. We had his size, so I reached into my bag and handed him a pair. It’s said that the eyes are the window to the soul, and as I looked at his deep-set brown eyes, I wondered about his story. I wanted to ask him a question, but I was quickly diverted with the expression on his face as he began to smile. He thanked me with tears rolling down his face, and not soon after, my eyes filled with tears as well.
A simple gesture from a total stranger made his day, and it certainly made ours as we went from person to person distributing the kits. We felt on top of the world, and I began to wonder what stopped us from doing this sooner? Was is just busyness? Or was approaching strangers in hard times just too uncomfortable? Why was it so difficult to get out of the perceived boundaries in our minds?