Homelessness is often ignored. Going about daily life, it is easy to walk past a cardboard sign reading “Food, or anything else will help. God Bless” and dismiss the plight of the person behind the message. Stopping could be intimidating, embarrassing, or make you late for that meeting you are trying to reach.
So why should we care?
I’ll give you 8,830 reasons.
8,830. In King County alone, that was the number of homeless counted in the 2012 ‘One Night Count.’ The actual number is estimates to be somewhere around 11,000 individuals. Half of that is comprised of families with children. (Graphic?) That means roughly 1 in 360 people go to sleep each night without somewhere to call home.
Cassie, a homeless women living on the streets of Seattle, is the owner of the aforementioned cardboard sign. “People out here do not like to give.” she said when asked if her sign was effective, all the while shaking her head in disappointment.
Men and women wearing sharp, clean suits look at her and keep walking as if they’ve seen nothing, while the people covered in dirty rags and with little money are the ones who often offer to buy her some food.
The chilly air quickly dried the tears that were beginning to flood my eyes as she told her story, and I could not help but notice tears rolling down her face as well.
Lighthouse, NU’s homeless ministry and the source for these stories, focuses on sowing goodness in the lives of the homeless. For several years, Lighthouse has not only given NU students an opportunity to share with homeless people about the hope of Christ, but also the opportunity to offer a listening ear, a gift Jesus so generously provides for us.
The last time that I offered a homeless person a peanut butter sandwich, I regretted not putting enough peanut butter in it. The sandwich must have tasted stale; I had not put much thought into preparing it.
As the man took a bite, he realized that the fact that the peanut butter was not oozing out of the sides only meant that I had scarcely spread it over the bread.
Sometimes, it can be easy worry about “running out of peanut butter,” giving away too much. The reason for the action can get lost, but people need to realize that you can never sow too much goodness in God’s Kingdom.
Presently, Northwest University students are working on several projects to reach out to the homeless community in Seattle.
“Hoodies for the Homeless,” an NU bookstore is sponsored event, is working to collect and then distribute sweatshirts alongside Lighthouse. For every gently-used sweatshirt a student donates, the bookstore offers a 25% discount off of a new sweatshirt. The student who brings in the most sweatshirts will even receive a free Northwest University sweatshirt.
This year, NUSG has coordinated a hygiene kit build in which students will participate. Previously NU has teamed up with World Vision in order to build similar kits that were then sent to Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Students would assemble caregiver kits including petroleum jelly, water purifying tablets, and other needed items to equip volunteer AIDS caregivers. This year, however, the efforts have been expanded and kits will also be delivered by students to the local homeless in Seattle.
Lighthouse is another way students can get involved in homeless outreach. Meeting every Friday at 6:30 p.m. in the Pecota building’s commuter lounge, Lighthouse is an opportunity to sow goodness among the homeless population and witness Christ transform not only the lives of those on the streets but your own as well.
Written by Maritza Lino