The Shelter

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We entered the homeless shelters kitchen all looking a little nervous and curious. My youth group and I had volunteered to feed lunch at a small rental hall in downtown Pontiac. The man running the place took in the homeless during the cold winter months. He fed them meals and let them enjoy the warmth.
There were about forty to fifty volunteers and around twenty homeless people. Some people were sent to work in the kitchen while the rest of us were supposed to get to know the men and women at the shelter. Not many people knew how to react. We were told to stay in groups of four and no one in my group was really up for meeting anyone.
"What do we say”, I could hear everyone whisper as they glanced around the room.
Some of the more outgoing people started to lead their groups to mingle. I decided I would try that too. I walked over to a man who had his arms crossed and looked very uptight. I took a seat across the table from where he was sitting. I looked around me only to see that my whole group had left except my sister who was sitting beside me. I tok a deep breath and said,
"Hi, my name is Madeline and this is Libby", I said gesturing towards my sister.
"What's your name?"
"I don't have a name”, said the man.
How on earth was I supposed to react to that? I thought everyone had a name homeless or not. All I could come up with to say was "oh". I followed his blank stare and I realized he was watching TV. I asked him he was watching.
"A TV.” he answered.
This guy obviously didn't want to talk to me. I walked to next table over trying to restore my confidence. I sat down at a table with another man and went through the same routine. He seemed to enjoy my company. He told me his name and about himself. I realized he was like any other person I know. He had a daughter and had a lot to say about her. He showed me a picture that he kept with him and I thought of my dad. My dad has pictures of us that he shows to people that ask about at his job.
I started to realize that these people sitting all around me normal. Some had mental issues or addictions but people we come across in our daily lives have these problems. These people at the shelter are looked down on because they don't have a home. There are so many people who see these man and women on the streets and walk on by. I began to think if these people only had a home how their situations would be different. Besides the obvious things, maybe they would have someone smile at them or say hello.
I left the shelter with mixed feelings. I was happy that we could make these people feel accepted even if only for a few hours. As soon as the homeless left the shelter they would be back where they started, Life passing by when they had no one. I am going to try to remember that day the next time I see someone less fortunate than me I at least offer them a smile.





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