A Tale of Two Cities
The Bed - D7K3024epgs12X9 by Eric Parker https://fickr.com/photos/ericparker/13602609864
In New York City we had our first snow of the fall/winter season. Quietly the flakes blanketed the streets, seeming still as they steadily cascaded, like a Buddhist symphony. I look out at my rear garden, at the snow-covered trees and shrubs. As birds fly past they sing and chirp. I’ve missed the squirrel romp as it’s 9 a.m. and they are early acrobats.
It’s that time of year for us to count our blessings. Hanukkah arrives tomorrow followed by Christmas later in the month. As daylight hours grow shorter (now until the 21st, the shortest day), I find it helpful to warm the hearth of my home with good food, communication, and gratitude for many blessings.
Others are not so fortunate. New York City has great wealth, yet there are 60,000 homeless people, mostly living in shelters. They will not have a home for Christmas…
Many of us can feel overwhelmed by these statistics. Often we choose to ignore those who sleep in the streets in the bitter cold. What can one person do, I ask myself?
I began thinking more seriously about this because of the two homeless men I’ve seen on the street for the last eighteen months. One was accepted into the Bowery Mission, which he likes very much. The other, a veteran, has also been placed. I am so relieved that these two men have found refuge.
I believe that the solution to homelessness can be found in each community IF the community is prepared to support the effort. The homeless would be housed in their locale. Suppose neighborhoods were divided into sections of several miles (like the school community boards), and decided to create affordable housing while also using existing housing stock. Suppose the community assisted this population to enter the workforce, providing counseling (including government benefits) and medical support in the transition. Children of these families would be offered school placement into local magnet schools or kept at their current ones, and be supported by counselors.
The will and determination, in community, is sufficient to create a momentum and solution to this complicated issue. It was Margaret Mead who said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
It’s been said that it takes a village. In the case of the homeless, this has never been more true…
This is my last blog post for 2017. Happy, Merry to all of you.
I’ll speak to you in three weeks on January 1st.
Light and Peace,
*The novel by Charles Dickens, 1859