Step into a homeless person's shoes...
Last night, we handed out bags to Christopher and Kimberly. They had a lot to say, and they explained many misconceptions about homelessness that we would like to bring awareness to. We hope that we can spread their story through our organization.
When we first sat down, Chris immediately thanked us for giving our time to speak with him. He told us that of the many harsh realities he's experienced while living on the streets, the one thing that bothered him the most was the neglect he felt from other members of our society. Even if it was just one person a day that said a mean remark to him, he eventually would begin to internalize those remarks and falsely convince himself that he was somewhat inferior to others. This was a harsh thing to hear, but it opened our eyes to how cruel the streets can be.
When we asked him if there were any shelters he could sleep in during the night, he helped us learn that the shelters were not necessarily as good as they may seem be. He spoke of the unsanitary hygiene equipment and the uncomfortable sleeping conditions that made shelters a non-viable option for many. Sleeping on the streets or in subway stations were preferable for him and his wife than sleeping in a shelter.
We ended up buying some of New York's finest pizza and ate it with Chris and Kim as we spoke some more. They told us many stories; for example, Chris told us of how there was once an older man who wanted to know what it was like to be homeless. He approached Chris and asked if it would be okay for him to spend the night with him on the streets. Chris said he greatly appreciated that this man, who had never experienced homelessness, wanted to step into a homeless person's shoes. And this man, who could not last through the night, thanked Chris for helping him understand the difficulties of homelessness and especially the derogatory remarks that some make to our homeless community.
As of now, Chris and Kim are in court battling for custody of their children. They have four children in foster care and Kim is four months pregnant, so they're expecting a fifth child soon. Their children are doing excellent in school, but they want to be with their parents. Some claims have been made against Chris and Kim to prevent them from gaining custody of their children, but they believe that these claims are false and have hired a lawyer to help with their case.
Chris and Kim wanted to emphasize that not everyone on the streets is addicted to alcohol or drugs. They both have been sober and drug-free for over two years now and have the drug tests to prove it. Many people are forced into homelessness for reasons beyond their control. For Chris and Kim, the least that others can do is provide proper acknowledgement and, at the very least, listen to their story. We know Chris and Kim are both excellent parents and valuable members of our society. We hope everything works out for you two, and we are forever thankful that you took the time to say your story to us.