The meaning of poverty according to the Merriam-Webster : The state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money material possessions.
The Department of Health and Human Services reports ; 2011 poverty guidelines for the 48 Contiguous States and District of Columbia, a family of four with a income of $22,350 a year, fall under the poverty lines.
The fact the nearly 250,000 families enter into foreclosure every three months, is one of the heart breaking reasons of why there is an increase number of homeless entering into society.
Over half of Americans live outside their means, living paycheck to paycheck. With business and states struggling to keep their head above water, we're seeing an increase of pink-slips, cutbacks, and rising unemployment rates. Stir all those ingredients into a large melting pot, bake for three to four months, and we have a cake of broken dreams and hardships tossed into a society that lacks mercy.
When you walk down the streets and see a person asking for help, or merely just siting upon the pavement with everything they own stuffed into a black trash bag; honestly, do you quickly look away or above their heads, hoping you don't make eye contact? When Walter would walk to work as an accountant on historical DC streets, every so often he would hand someone a few coins from his pocket, but there were people that he turned a check to.
Then one day (like so many other Americans), Walter found himself laid off in a mass pool of unemployed people, all applying for the few and in-between positions that were available. There is only so long one can hold onto shoes strings before they become frail and brake. Walter found himself humbled and living like the people he once handed coins to. His home, now a bench across the street from the Hoover building in Washington DC, his warmth a blue tarp and layered newspapers.
I had the privilege meeting Walter on one of our outreach adventures. Armed with a pack full of supplies that I offered to Walter, he kindly declined, "I am good for now sister, thank you for doing God's work and reaching out to the homeless. God always has away of providing for me". While I sat with Walter to hear his story , which is a echo of so many, his one and only wish was that I spread the word of how the homeless are just like everyone else. They too have feelings. That when we walk past, they can see us turning our checks; "We're not invisible" he announced "Yet, it is hard for people to look at our faces" . Walter had no idea that I am a writer, that I have an outlet to spread the word, he went on pure faith that I would accommodate his wishes. As if God was telling Walter," Tell her to spread the word, and I'll have her spread the message".
My goal is to fulfill Walter's wish and write, The Faces of the Faceless. The journey thus far has been an eye opening experience to say the least. The research is heartbreaking, yet when I am serving the smiles I receive refuel the need to spread the word. We are all equal, we are all God's children, we are called to have mercy. Walter's story is just one of the many stories that will be in the book. I have a dare for each and everyone of you, next time you walk past the person asking for help, or sitting upon the pavement, if you are unable to toss a few coins, how about a smile. I bet you they will reply with a friendly, "God bless you".
Hebrews 13:2 "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it"