The city of Hinesville recently observed Homeless and Hunger Awareness Week, which consisted of a town hall meeting, canned food drive and other events designed to shed light on the community’s prevention programs and assist members of the population who are in need. Kudos to Homeless Prevention Program coordinator Daisy Jones, who works in the city’s Community Development Department, for coordinating the observance, and to the city for supporting it.
Those who attended the meeting watched a video that described the “new face” of homelessness. Gone should be the often stereotypical assumptions that people who have no homes suffer from substance-abuse problems or are too lazy to find jobs. “Homeless” is a family that is forced to live in their car or with a relative because both wage earners lost their jobs; “homeless” is a widow who finds herself with insufficient income after her husband, the breadwinner, passes away; “homeless” is a young adult who can’t find a job but is too proud or afraid to ask for help from his parents.
With the approach of the holidays, it’s easy to preach and act on messages of charity and love. In order to help, one needn’t look any further than the Salvation Army bell ringer’s bucket outside the grocery story or the countless food and toy drives currently under way. But we would do well to remember that homelessness is a year-round problem.
As the economic recovery continues to stagnate, it’s important to understand that good, hard-working people are struggling to overcome financial hardships that might not necessarily be present under normal circumstances. Sure, everyone has problems, and some of them may be self-inflicted. However, it should come as no surprise that with foreclosures at historically high rates, many people are just one pink slip away from the street.
We need to band together as a community and reach out. Give these people in need the benefit of the doubt that we would all hope to receive in similar circumstances.
There are ways to get involved. The Hinesville Military Affairs Committee just co-sponsored a Veterans Stand Down dinner and resource fair this weekend to help homeless vets and their families. While that event has passed, HMAC likely would welcome assistance and volunteer workers any time of the year. Staffers at the Kirk Healing Center for the Homeless work tirelessly around the clock to improve the lives of those who have fallen on hard times. The Manna House food pantry provides nutritious food to families who otherwise would not be able to afford it. Countless churches, civic organizations and charities in the area — too many to name here — are dedicated to combating homelessness and need in Hinesville. Please join them. For more information on how to make a difference, call Homeless Prevention Program coordinator Daisy Jones at 876-6573.