In the world I live in and the places I go, I’m in close contact with many disenfranchised and hurting people. Many homeless women come to Wellspring. There are now more and more homeless men, women and children in our Oak Park community.
I volunteer for Safeground when my Bayside Church in midtown hosts it. In talking and spending time with these people and the people who help them – social workers, volunteers in various agencies, and other concerned citizens — I learned about something that was very troubling and common.
When some of these homeless people went to the hospital and were released, some very sick and in pain, they can become vulnerable targets for attack because of the medications they must take. Some must use walkers or are in wheelchairs. Some can barely walk. They are easy targets when they have no safe place to be and are unable to protect themselves.
They are attacked, their medications taken, and in some instances, their paperwork, ID and cards. If they don’t give these up easily they can be injured. And in any case, they are left crying, sick and feeling hopeless. The people who work with them, if they have availed themselves, are extremely frustrated and in many instances also traumatized. (For some it’s not just a job, paid or unpaid.)
I talked with a Safeground leader the last time I worked there, and shared that as I looked over the group of homeless there, I felt comforted to know that at least none of these people, for this one night, would be attacked, raped, or suffer from hunger or cold. They were safe and tended by people who truly loved them just as they are.
I knew the next night, that would not be the case. I also thought of all of the people who, at the same time, were out there, and what was happening to some of them.
Women are the ones who are the most vulnerable and easiest targets. Their suffering is beyond measure. They so much would like the public to know about the realities and truths of their lives! Some of these realities are beyond believing. It is hard to try to make any rational sense out of how our own society could possibly be so cruel to our own people. And even if you don’t think so, or want to admit it, these are our own people – yours too!
How many of our city council members or other people who have had a part in making and passing laws and ordinances concerning the homeless have ever volunteered for Safeground? Have you?
Could this not be a big part of the reason for having to beg for Safeground camping? Housing and bureaucracy can come later – “sometime in the future,” as they say. The need is now: tonight. While city leaders vie for money and figure out who is going to get whatever, people — men, women and children — suffer needlessly in Sacramento.