The rest of my weekend was packed! Bright and early (well, it was actually pitch black) on Saturday morning, I ran 9 miles – I think I was supposed to run 14, but I was tired from Halloween. Impressively, Boom ran 17 miles! I told him he needs to start getting some milage in during the week, not just waiting until Sat to do a long run. These days I am trying to run 4 days a week, and between 20 – 30 miles a week. This week I ran 4 days – my milage was only 21 miles, so on the low end of my self-imposed spectrum, but at least within it.
Next up was a tour (organized by the JLH) of the Houston Food Bank. It is quite an impressive facility! The guy giving us a tour had a lot of impressive stats – one of the ones that stuck with me was all the food in the food bank (it is a huge warehouse) is given out within 24 days of being received. Another interesting fact is that 70% of people that get food from the Food Bank are NOT homeless. So they are the working poor that have to decide between medication and food. or house payments and food. They are a central receiving facility, and 400 non-profit organizations get food from the food bank.
Next up – my friend R and I went to DiverseWorks (an art gallery of sorts) to see the exhibit “Ben Tecumseh DeSoto: Understanding Poverty”. Wow. It was really moving and very eye opening. I guess I kind of live a sheltered life, but I didn’t realize what an issue homelessness is, and Houston has a large homeless population, probably in part due to it’s mild climate.
For me, homelessness is something that is really hard for me to understand. Why are people homeless? Why don’t they just get a job and save some money so they can rent an apartment? And I never know how to respond to panhandlers – I don’t want to give them money b/c what if they use it on booze or drugs? But, as a human being, I feel bad seeing a fellow human being in such a plight.
After seeing this exhibit, I am realizing that homelessness is so much more complicated than I ever imagined. Most homeless people have mental health issues, which perpetuates their problems. Many are suffering from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), some from being military vets, and others from horrible events in their lives. Most have been abused in the worst ways – sexually, emotionally, physically – from a small age by the people who were supposed to love them the most.
They are all “just one bad decision” away from either being fine (i.e. living week to week) or being destitute. Something that I just can’t really imagine – can’t wrap my puny brain around. They don’t have any sort of safety net that they can depend on, if they make that one bad decision. I think of Boom and I, and if something really horrible ever happened, there are so many people we could depend on to help pick us up – my parents, my sister, his parents, his sibling, friends, etc.
I think it is easiest to lump all homeless people together and say that they are lazy, scary people. Makes it easier on folks to ignore them without feeling bad. These people have given up on themselves, but they somewhat can’t be blamed, as they have never known what it is like to have a fighting chance – stable family life, role models to look up to, friends to lean on, etc.
I think I am really going to try to learn more about this problem, try to understand it the best I can, and see what I can do to help. There is a local youth homeless shelter in Yarb’s and R’s neighborhood – Covenant House Texas – I have emailed them to get more information on some of their programs. R and I also want to do a Saturday volunteering session (with Yarbs, hopefully) to see what it is all about.
In my Pollyanna-ish way, I think most people are good. And theses youth that find themselves homeless and hopeless, maybe they could be put on a better path if they just had a chance. Makes me feel really lucky and thankful to have been born into my family
It seems overwhelming, what could I really affect with this huge issue of homelessness? But I realize I have to think that I can make a difference by doing my part / what I can, and if everyone made an effort to do their part, these big issues would seem less daunting. And for the pragmatists, helping get homeless people off the streets would lessen the tax burden on all of us.
Intense stuff for me – I didn’t cry at the exhibit, though there were many times I wanted to, but I did cry when I got home and was talking about everything with Boom. Makes me sad and a little guilty feeling. Hopefully I can get involved in a meaningful way to help chip away at the problem.
Lastly, I left for work around 530pm – for a pre-performance dinner with donors / prospective donors, then mingling in the Green Room with Patrons during intermissions, and then working my post-valet shift. Was home around 1130pm. Whew! Made for one tired Tingaling. and Sunday morning I totally forgot about the time change, so was up an hour earlier than need be! Highly annoying.
So a very full and interesting weekend. I am hoping that next weekend is a bit calmer than this weekend, but I can’t complain too much!