Good People Doing Good Things – To Help The Homeless

Once again it is Wednesday morning and time for me to do a bit of digging and find some good people who are doing good things with their lives.  Last week, I wrote about a mega-good group, Doctors Without Borders, so this week I am turning to a few individuals who are taking on a mega- challenge:  homeless people.  In the U.S. alone, it is estimated that there are more than a half-million people who are homeless, people who know not where they will sleep tonight, nor where their next meal will come from.  And globally, there are an estimated 100 million homeless. As I sit here writing this, homemade veggie soup simmering in the crock pot, fresh bread in the oven, a cup of steaming, hot coffee by my side, I remember a day … nearly forty years in the past, that I and my children were homeless for a short period of time.  Yes, you heard me right … due to circumstances and poor decisions I made, for a few short days I found myself not knowing where I would live, with no money in my pocket, no job.  It was the most terrifying time in my life, I never felt more powerless before nor since. I was so fortunate to have good friends who helped me overcome, and within a few days I was mostly back on my feet.  But what about those who do not have friends who can or will help?  Can you imagine it?  Probably not, and neither can I.

In a short search mission, I found several people who have done good things to help the homeless, which convinces me that there are many more out there, operating in the shadows, so to speak, to help people in need.  In the words of Lao Tzu, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.  Or in the words of my former boss, John Clements, “Peanuts make elephants”.  So let us take a look at some good people now …

homeless-suchmanIn New York City lives a woman named Carol Suchman who has donated toys to homeless children at Christmas every year for many years.  But in 2015, she felt her contribution was not enough, and she wanted to do more.  So what did she do?  She bought an entire bloomin’ toy store and donated every last toy to homeless children!  The store had a “going out of business” sign on their window, and Ms. Suchman negotiated to buy every single toy, stuffed animal, and art supply in inventory.  No word on the cost, but I’m sure it was more money than I have in my pocket at the moment!  Hats off to a very generous, caring lady! doffing-hat

homeless-giggs-nevilleAcross the pond, in the United Kingdom (UK), there are two football stars, Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs, who bought the old Stock Exchange building on Norfolk Street in Manchester for some £1.5 million ($1.8 million USD) with the intention of turning it into a boutique hotel, complete with basement gym, spa and rooftop private members’ terrace.  A fancy place for the rich and famous. Meanwhile, however, a group of not-so-rich-and-famous homeless people found refuge in the empty building.  While many would have been calling for police to evict the squatters, Neville told them to feel free to stay … through the winter.  Housing and human rights activist, Wesley Hall, broke down and cried when Neville informed him that he wanted to provide shelter to any who needed it through the winter.  Hall plans to provide hot food, health checkups, benefit advice, workshops, signposting to other services and help with securing permanent accommodation. Another hats off to two benevolent men for their generosity! doffing-hat

homeless-lily-fardellAnd down under in the land of Oz, 96-year-old Lily Fardell died in 2015.  But her legacy is one that will live on for many years.  Lily stipulated in her will that her estate … her entire estate … be donated to St. Vincent de Paul to provide services for homeless children.  How much was her estate, you ask?  Oh, once the house and furnishings were sold, it came to only about $4.3 million!  Lily never had children of her own, but she loved children and her most generous gift will change the lives of many children who might not have had a chance in life otherwise.  Thank you, and a posthumous hats off, Ms. Fardell! doffing-hat

Those are just a few of the stories of people doing some pretty big things to help the homeless.  Obviously, most people cannot buy an entire toy store, and few of us own homes worth $4 million, but there are a lot more people out there doing what they can … making a difference in small, but important ways.

homeless-coatsEmilia Flores owns The Taco Stop in Dallas, Texas.  She sells … well … tacos!  And beer.  But in front of her shop, she has placed a coat rack with a sign that reads, “Are you cold? Take one… Do you want to help? Leave one.” Says Flores, “This is a way of people not being embarrassed about asking. They just come and pick what they need and leave.”  The rack was stolen four times last year, but Flores and her regular customers keep replacing the rack and bringing in more coats!

homeless-morrieIn Grandville, Michigan, 91-year-old Morrie Boogart is in a hospice facility, where he is battling skin cancer and a growth on his kidney.  But do you know what he spends his days doing?  He does not spend them sitting around bemoaning his own problems … no, he spends them knitting … hats … for homeless people!  He has knitted more than 8,000 hats for the homeless! “Why do I do it? It just makes me feel good. This has been the best thing that’s happened to me because I just stay in my room,”

East High School in Utah has some 80 students who are homeless.  To help them with some basic necessities, the school recently installed washing machines, dryers, and lockers for their homeless students. The Leopard Laundry room – as it is called because of their mascot being a leopard – is also equipped with donated shampoo, conditioner, detergent, towels, and free clothing for the taking.

And at Washington High School in Beaufort County, North Carolina, students have set up a food pantry that remains fully stocked with non-perishable goods for students to take if they need it. Along with the canned goods, school supplies and personal toiletry items are also made available to the student population.

And the list goes on and on and on.  Good people ARE doing good things.  Some are doing big things, like Bill and Melinda Gates, but others are doing smaller things, giving as they are able, whether it is cash, their skills, or just their time.  I think that today it is all too easy to focus on the greed and inhumanity we see every day when we turn on the television or boot up our computers, and perhaps sometimes we need to remind ourselves that there are a whole lot of people out there who have hearts of gold, who are giving, caring, sharing and loving their fellow humans.

25 thoughts on “Good People Doing Good Things – To Help The Homeless

    • Thank you, dear friend! My thoughts are to switch back and forth … some weeks write about the big things, and other weeks about the everyday people making differences. Glad you liked it … ! 🙂

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  1. Hi Jill,
    I myself do good deeds for individuals who are homeless and/or elderly when I am able, because I have had the experience of being homeless for a number of years, and I know what it means to receive unexpected help at times that you really need it. “Pay it forward” is one of my favourite sayings. And one of my favourite good deeds was the day I was standing behind an elderly lady at the Wal-Mart pharmacy in Peace River, Alberta, Canada and I heard her talking to the pharmacist about how many of which medications she could afford AFTER buying the medications she could not live without. After she left with her little bag of affordable medications, I asked the pharmacist how much she owed on her account, and how much it would cost to fill the rest of her prescriptions that she could not afford to buy. When he told me, I took out my credit card and paid for everything. Her prescriptions would be waiting for her the next time she came in, along with a bill that read Balance Owing $0.00. As i was leaving the store I happened to see her, and told her that the pharmacist asked me if I saw her to return to the pharmacy because she had left something behind. She looked bewildered, but dutifully headed back to the pharmacy. Next time I saw the same pharmacist, I asked how things went, and he said she almost had a heart attack right there, and she sat down in his waiting area and cried for a long long time.
    But this is not why I am writing. When my oldest brother died, and his will was read, not that he was a rich man or anything like that, but after taking care of his wife, the rest of his estate was to be sold and the money put into a trust to buy winter parkas, hats, and gloves for the homeless for as long as the money lasted. This was in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, where the temperature in winter could easily fall to -40° C or F, that being the cold point where the two temperature scales were equal. In my whole life, while I knew my brother, John David Miller, was a generous man, I never knew that every winter while he was alive he secretly gave a month’s paycheque to help the homeless, and that only came out when his wife told us brothers and sisters that his tradition would be carried on even after he was cremated and his ashes buried in a cemetery. Because of his secrecy, he never once heard the words “Thank you,” for his benevolence, except in the tears his wife cried every Christmas because she “had married one of the nicest men in the world.” They had been unable to have children, so he made the homeless people in Winnipeg his family, though no one ever knew where the money came from. Your blog has given me the opportunity to tell the world of how generous of a man my brother really was.
    With any luck I will be able to do similarly in the town where I live in far Northern Alberta, Canada, where the temperatures are very similar to those in Winnipeg in winter. And if any one of your readers is inspired by his story, and the stories in your blog, I hope they will help the homeless where they live. You don’t have to be rich to feel like a million bucks.

    rawgod

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    • The story of what you did for the lady at the pharmacy, and what you have written about your brother brought a smile to my face (and a bit of a tear to my eye … I am getting more sentimental in my old age). It is so easy these days to forget that most people are actually good people, people who try to treat others right. Sadly, the squeaky wheel gets the oil and we hear so much about the bigots, the rich elitists, and the narrow-minded, that we forget about those like you and your brother who go quietly about their business doing the best they can for their fellow man.

      Like you, ‘pay it forward’ is an expression and a concept that I love! I recently read a story where people in a line at the drive-thru of a fast food restaurant were all ‘paying it forward’, until it came to a lady driving some fancy luxury car who said, when the guy at the window explained it to her, something along the lines of “why should I? I earned mine, let them earn theirs.’

      We cannot all do big things like save lives, donate millions, but I believe we can all do something to make somebody’s life just a little better. Actually, I believe those of us who can have an obligation to help our fellow humans. Thank you so much for sharing this yours and your brothers stories!

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      • When you say “almost an obligation” you come close to my philosophy of life, that we are all responsible for one another, living being for living being. My only problem with your choice of words is obligation, that sounds too much like a “must do.” How about we say “almost an experience of learning and feeling” or something like that. Yes, I use the word responsibility, but I mean it from the heart, from inside of me, not anyone telling me I must do. I hope you understand what I am trying to say, it is my CHOICE to accept that responsibility to be responsible for my fellow living beings, in particular those who cannot take care of themselves in the way that we can take care of ourselves. This may sound disgusting, but in order to survive, life must live on life, we get very little nourishment from things that were never alive, therefore we must take lives to survive. But unless you cannot afford to buy your own food, there is no need to go out and kill something that isn’t already dead. This is a conversation I have been having with myself for years, and during the time I was trying out life as a vegetarian I realized that vegetables are living beings too, even though most of them cannot move on their own. They are born of a seed, they grow to maturity, and if allowed to most would die in a winter frost. With fruits you generally do not have to kill anything, but we cannot live on fruits alone, I don’t think.
        I realize my thinking moves from one area to another that most people don’t see as related, but it is all part of my philosophy. I have only just found out that the seeds of a marijuana plant can supply us with 80% of our necessary daily allotment of fatty acids, and they have an incredibly small amount of THC in them. Some scientists say that marijuana seeds, especially the oil in them, are the most nutritious fruit in the world, (calling them a fruit only because that is the closest thing to what they really are, which I have no idea what they really are classified as as a food source) {tricky sentence that one, lol}. How many marijuana seeds we would need to eat in a day I cannot say, but there must be some way to figure it out. Any dieticians out there?
        What I am trying to get at is marijuana is a weed in those parts of the world where it grows naturally, and one plant can produce a tremendous number of seeds in its short lifetime, so it could save a lot of unnecessary killing in order for us to survive.
        Black market scientists found ways to increase the amount of THC in a female marijuana plant, so why can’t other legal scientists find a way to reduce the THC to next-to-nothing and feed the whole of mankind on this nutritious food source. And our pets and other tamed animals too, like chickens and turkeys, and working animals like donkeys and camels and horses. Can you imagine how different the world could be if we conquered hunger with the seeds of just one species of plant. The fibres of the marijuana plant are also very strong, yet soft, and can be used for everything from rope to socks to suit jackets. Man, I’m blowing my own mind here.
        Thank you for being my sounding board tonight, Jill. I have a lot of new things to think about now…
        With gratitude,
        rawgod

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  2. It helps to remember that there are good people out there. I just wish more people would understand how important it is to help others rather than just blame them for becoming homeless, etc. Walk a mile in those shoes, people. Or to quote a source certain people are fond of quoting “Judge not lest ye be judged.”

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    • Thanks, Gronda! Yes, sometimes we think that nothing we could do would make a difference, but as you say, a lot of pebbles eventually add up to something great. Now, more than ever, I think it is important that we all do whatever we can to help others. Hugs!

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  3. Jill, thanks for writing this. Hugh, thanks for the kudos. All homeless people need a helping hand, but especially the children. If we can help them become housed, we can break a cycle of homelessness. I do not know the source of this statistic, but it was voiced to me by the now head of a Foundation who helps children, education and rural areas. He said the propensity of a homeless child becoming a homeless adult is higher than that of a child who has a home. Keith

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    • Thanks, Keith! And thanks for all you and your organization do, also! I am always amazed that people who don’t have billions in the bank actually give more of themselves to help others than those who do have billions. In fairness, that is not true in all cases, but much of the time it seems to be the case.

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    • Dear Keith, yes the children are important, but no more important than any person who is homeless and needs a helping hand. If no one had helped me in my 40s, I would never have been able to find work, go back to university and get my Bachelor of Social Work, and spend the rest of my working life helping others. No one ever knows what can happen just by extending a helping hand to anyone they encounter, and how much that person is going to “pay forward” your benevolence. The person who helped me ended up helping not only homeless children, but their parents, especially single mothers, as well. When I was in university as a middle-aged man, I heard a number of stories similar to my own. And a lot of those came from single mothers who escaped battering and child-abusing husbands, only to end up penniless and living on the street as best they could manage. Please, to anyone who is going to help, help everyone. There are a lot of golden nuggets living in the streets that just need a bit of shining. To quote John Lennon, “And we all shine on/Like the moon and the stars and the sun/Yes we all shine on/On and on and on and on…”

      rawgod

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      • No question and I am glad you raised the importance of helping adults. If you notice in my first sentence, I was advocating helping children, but not at the expense of helping adults. The reason I focused on families is the reaction I get with some who are more than reticent to help adults buying into popular, but unsubstantiated beliefs. What I am able to do is convince them to at least help the kids.

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        • As long as we all do what we can, we’ll cover all the ages. But bigotry or ageism or whatever you call people who bitch about not helping someone in need for some trumped up reason (good pun, hunh?) do what they do to impress others, and to be looked on as important by others. We know what kind of people they are, but I for one would still take their money if they were willing to give it to me. And I would use it for the very people that the giver won’t help, just to spite them. Of course, I wouldn’t tell them that, lol.

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    • Yes, I thought about Keith as I was writing this. Isn’t it heartening to see that so many people are giving of themselves, their time, and whatever resources they have? 🙂 Restores one’s faith in humanity, at least a bit.

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  4. Inundated by so much evil in our world can easily anaesthetise us to the overwhelming ‘Good’ that beavers away quietly….Old saying: Empty barrels make the most noise. 😉 Lovely post. Hugs! ❤

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