I knew exactly what I wanted to talk about for the 3rd installment of Standing Room Only: hunger and homelessness. The topic made me hesitate because of my lack of volunteerism in the area. Moving to Atlanta a year ago, I noticed the large number of people living in homelessness. According to the Atlanta Mission, a nonprofit formed to help and rehabilitate homeless men and women, there are about 7,000 homeless people in Atlanta. 1,300 of these people without homes are families. These men, women, and children can be found sitting or sleeping on the streets at any time of day.
I find it maddening that there is constant construction of luxury apartments in Atlanta while people line the sidewalks just hoping they can find some sort of shelter. I began accepting their presence as a background to my daily walk to The Center, that’s not right.
I recently saw a man dig through the trash to find food as I was passing by. I offered him my pack of crackers and when he asked for a quarter, I gave him a dollar. The reality of having to go through a trash can to find a meal is so far removed from my own. The experience had me contemplating the rest of my walk to my car: what am I going to do?
I signed up to volunteer at Habitat for Humanity and Meals on Wheels Atlanta. I know this won’t change that man’s reality or the 7,000 other homeless people’s but hopefully it can give me a more comprehensible look at the problem. I am excited to learn and to be a helping hand. I decided to sign up for orientation on my birthday as I can’t imagine a better gift to myself than to help my community.