Last year, I realized that because I've been in this position for several years (eight), I had become desensitized to the fact that a lot of these people come in feeling ashamed, hurt, and desperate.
So, around Thanksgiving last year, I scheduled Brenn and me to volunteer at the Nashville Rescue Mission men's campus. Let me just tell you, it changed my view of homelessness, mental illness, and poverty in general. We have since volunteered there several times and every time we go I leave a piece of my heart.
A poem one of the guys at the mission wrote for me last year
I know there's always going to be people who buck the system. People who really could go out and get a job and support their families. People who are just lazy.
But, the majority of people I encounter at the rescue mission have things they're dealing with that are far greater than laziness. Some have fallen on hard times either because of bad decisions they've made or because life just happened...sickness, a lost job, etc.
The group we took to the mission this past weekend
Some have mental or social diseases that make it very hard for them to function in society. This means it's very hard for them to perform normal everyday activities, let alone keep a job.
And, some are so gripped with the weight of addictions that they don't know how or don't even want to make a better life for themselves.
Several of the men who help in the kitchen are a part of the recovery program that's offered by the rescue mission. I love talking to these guys. They are from all over the country and are so grateful for what the mission has done to help them get back on their feet.
My boyfriend and me
My boyfriend also had a conversation with a man who is actually going to school, but has no place to live. He sleeps at the mission and then rides a city bus to school everyday. This man is working hard and making straight A's.
Brenn and a friend waiting for the men to come in
So, the moral of this story is don't judge people before you know their story. We don't know the journey that some people have had to trek.