Our street outreach teams visit you regularly, and every day you say “no.” You are happy just the way you are, living under a bridge in the middle of Los Angeles. You say you don’t want shelter. But remember that we will always be there asking you if you need help. We’ll never give up on you.
Let me help you. Even though you don’t always follow through.
I know you say that you want help, just not today. You say you’ll accept a housing voucher, but then you don’t show up to the appointment. Your words say “yes,” but your actions say “no.” We will wait you out. We will help synchronize your “yes” words with “yes” actions, even if it takes years.
Let me help you. Until you learn how to help yourself.
We do not give handouts. We do not want to help you only to make you dependent on us, or on society. That is not dignity. We want to help you so that one day, perhaps months or years from now, you will be able to help yourself You will stand tall, knowing that you are responsible for your own success.
Let me help you. Because, under slightly different circumstances, our roles could be reversed.
I don’t judge you for the current state of your life. Sure, you may have made mistakes when you were younger, or someone else may have made mistakes that hurt you. Sure, you are “supposed” to be independent, living in an apartment or house, and taking care of yourself. But you’re not. And I won’t judge you for that because, if a few things in my life had gone differently, I could very well have wound up in the same position.
Let me help you. Because helping you also helps me.
Why do I help you? Frankly, my motives are sometimes selfish. Helping you get off the streets and into an apartment makes me feel good. I feel like my life has meaning and value. I am somebody, because I have helped another person. Let me help you, because it helps me.
Let me help you. When we help each other, the world becomes a better place.
Why do I help you? Because helping you get off the streets makes our neighborhood, our city, and our country a better place to live. Helping you ultimately helps our world. By helping you, we become a sign of hope.
Let me help you. By blessing you.
Let me instill a blessing on you. Like rabbis who anoint their flocks of followers with ancient words of blessing, I “bless” your life by helping you return to a more dignified state of being. Like my parents who blessed me by putting me on the right path of life, I bless you by helping your life’s path become a little clearer. I bless you, because I have been blessed.
Let me help you.
Photo by Ed Yourdon.