There are lots of needy people among us

Published 1:55 pm Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Every day, there are people with large backpacks who can be found walking in downtown Elizabethton, on the trails, and in the parks. I suspect they lack a place to live. Some can be found salvaging in local garbage cans for food or other items.
Others can be found living out of their cars, parked at some familiar location.
Homelessness, for millions of people in the United States, consists of a plethora of challenges. To dispute the “homeless people are all mentally ill or addicts, or simply too lazy to work” is not true in many cases.
Homelessness is not a crime. For one reason or another, there are any number of people on our city’s streets. It is estimated that more than half a million Americans sleep in public places every night because they lack private spaces. They are homeless and their lives are falling apart. They struggle to stay healthy, to hold jobs, to preserve personal relationships, to maintain a sense of hope.
At one time, many denied that there are hungry people in our midst. But, apparently there are. When there is a food give-away, they show up to get the boxes of food. Almost every week some organization is giving away boxes of foods, and always there are people there to get it.
Perhaps we don’t know the reason for their homelessness or their lack of food. But, so often they are victims of our indifference. It’s a lot easier to pretend that we don’t see them and walk away than to offer them help. We have taken to treating homelessness and hunger as a sad fact of life, as if it were perfectly normal that many thousands of adults and children in the wealthiest nation on earth cannot afford a place to live or a meal.
The rise of homelessness is often portrayed as a collection of personal tragedies, the result of bad choices or bad luck. Maybe so.
There are jobs available. Every business up and down Broad Street, grocery stores, and other businesses have “Help Wanted” signs out. But many of these people lack the skills to work. And without work, they cannot pay rent and still have enough money for food, health care, and other needs.
To those churches and organizations that ofter food boxes, we as a community are thankful for your efforts and compassion. Is there more that we can do as a community? I’m sure there is.
One problem that we must face and do something about if we are to help the hungry and homeless, is the drug addiction problem in our community. Every week in Sessions Court there are numerous shoplifting cases — both men and women — which are the indirect result of addiction.
Our community has numerous social problems we must address: drugs, homelessness, lack of food, too many one-parent families, etc.
For now, there is a lack of answers and a lack of concern. But, hopefully, we will open our eyes and see the needs around us. They are many and it will take more than one person or one church to solve them.