I sit in awe, as my post meant to be voice for the homeless, continues to go viral. It’s been picked up by several news outlets, yearning to share the message of hope and healing. I’m humbled by your goodness everyone! Sincerely, thank you.
I’ve gotten thousands of your comments, messages, emails, and letters. I’m trying hard to respond to all of them, it may take me some time.
I’ve had the privilege of so many of you coming forward with your own stories of homelessness. I feel honored that you would share such deep wounds with me. There are so many warriors out there, who have fought- or whom are currently fighting their way to good lives. I’m proud you. I’m proud of us.
Some of you took the opportunity to write some beautiful letters telling me off,
to that I say……I love you, too. Friends, I didn’t expect to stick my neck out there without some backlash. Good thing I know who I am, and that I have about a ten second rebound rate. Ironically, homelessness taught me that. 😉 You are always welcome to share frustrations. I’m always going to be willing to take some bullets for a good cause.
Out of all the things that have been written to me these past few days, the words that rang through my heart the loudest are these…
“All I can say is, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.”
These are the most healing words I have heard in a long time. I think if we said those words a lot more often as a society, we could fix most – if not all – of our problems.
Somehow in recent years, we’ve stopped hearing each other. We’ve stopped being willing to pick up the lens of another person, fully willing to view it for a while – until we get the complete picture. To sit, even uncomfortably sometimes…until we SEE.
This time we all came to the table, and were well fed. That is character. That is progress. That is beautiful! Thank you for showing the world through your example…the proper way to solve a problem. To understand it.
So many people over and over, have written me saying things like this:
“I’m completely guilty of saying, ‘Not in my backyard’ but now I am totally sincere in saying, ‘Bring it on.’ I had no idea who I was missing out on helping. I am humble and now grateful for the opportunity to serve the homeless population.”
“I’ve never heard someone’s story of homelessness. Wow, I had no idea what people go through. It has stirred a change in my heart. It really opened my eyes to truly making a difference.”
“After reading this, I decided to start giving regularly to our local Homeless shelter, which is about a mile from our house. I just can’t get the Savior’s words out of my mind, and I have to do something to help.”
“I have to admit that I took a hard look at myself after reading this and I can certainly improve. I sure hope that I am treating everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE, the way Christ would want me to treat them. I also hope I have raised my children to do the same.”
“How can I help, how can I help, HOW CAN I HELP?”
So many heartfelt and amazing words. I could give you a thousand examples, such as the ones above, that confirm what I have always believed–
That people are GOOD.
Amazing, actually. Hearts are wide open, willing to lend aid to the less fortunate. Some just needed the right lens to view from. People don’t mean to exclude, it’s more that we misunderstand. That’s the beauty of humanity, isn’t it? When given the chance-
I can’t thank you enough for all of the letters, comments and beautiful sentiments that have been shared. You have impressed me with your goodness and light!
An update on where this is all headed and how you can help:
1. Don’t get comfortable. Feel free to contact your local homeless shelters to find out how you can help. A lot of you want to put your boots on the ground right now. I love that. Keep the fire lit! Locally, I am currently talking to homeless shelters to see how we as a community, can most effectively come to their aid. I am hoping we can stock some shelves of much needed supplies, but also maybe do some group volunteer projects! Wouldn’t that be cool to do good together? Heck ya! Give me a little time, I’m working on this. This about to get good! If anyone would like to help coordinate, send me an email.
2. PLEASE SHARE!!!
One vital way to help is to share my previous post with your neighbors, friends and family. We need more people in on this conversation. If you felt enlightened or had your heart soften, then please allow others the same experience. We have so much work to do, and we can’t do it without them. For homelessness initiatives to work it, it’s going to require open hearts, and communities willing to receive them. Please rally your communities in this effort. We need fresh perspectives on a tough topic. That will help tremendously as we move forward.
3. Concerns are VALID and deserve to be heard. No one is saying that communities shouldn’t have concerns. Most people when they think of homelessness, they picture pioneer park. It can feel intimidating that as a community, you are inviting that in. It is not irrational to worry about drugs, crime rates, impact on surrounding areas, impact on local law enforcement, etc. I ask you that write these concerns down. We need our communities invested in the cause, the only way we can do that is if we allow space for people to be heard and concerns to be addressed. However, may I also suggest that you write down solutions or ideas? We have a ton of brilliant minds in our communities. We need to tap that resource! Please email both to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mayor Ben McAdams office (along with a few others) has reached out to me, and we have a meeting next week to talk about homeless initiatives and resource centers (shelters). I would love input on what the concerns and ideas are so I can share them. The people in his office are amazing, they genuinely want to hear the voices of their communities.
4. Common Decency – Among this important list of ways to help, PLEASE – regardless of which side of the line you stand on – commit to civil discourse. One part of that commitment is to encourage our friends and neighbors along when we see tensions are high. I have never seen anything solved by a screaming match. Remember, these civil servants aren’t bulletproof. They bleed. Some of the ways I have witnessed them be treated…yikes, it’s shameful. Imagine if you were tasked with this. It’s a pretty tall order to take on something that you know is going to meet absolute resistance. I think that shows good character that so many are committed to do the hard things. Let’s be willing to do the hard things too by coming to the table with your concerns, your respect, and your ideas.
I am so so proud of all of us!! Even the haters! At least they started the conversation, right? It’s really been beautiful to watch. We are going to tackle this homelessness together. I’m not saying it will be easy, just that it’s worth it. Stay tuned! <3