Homelessness This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

   For a long time, whenever I thought of homeless people I thought of drunken bums begging on the street corners. But my whole outlook changed when I became involved in community services. I attended a Youth Outreach Weekend (Y.O.W.) where I spent three days working with the homeless. This enabled me to look beyond the stereotypes given to the homeless, and get to know them as real people.

At Y.O.W., we went to a family housing shelter in Boston, where women and children are given food and a place to live for a few weeks. I remember being very scared when I first walked into the room full of energetic kids watching and imitating mothers soulfully dancing to Salt n' Pepa while preparing the dinner. At first it was very awkward, but after introducing ourselves, we felt at home, playing with the kids and giving the mothers a break. The children ranged from 9 months to 12 years, and each one was friendly, and, like any child wanted constant attention. By the end of the night, I really felt good. I felt like I had done something which didn't take too much effort on my part, but made the kids really happy.

The next morning, we went back where we were welcomed by the mothers, and greeted by the kids with big hugs or begs for shoulder rides. At this point, we decided that we wanted to give them a change, so we bought pizzas, something they rarely enjoy. The children seemed really enthused to be treated to this, and the mothers stopped dancing and rapidly ate as many pieces as they could, after first checking to see if their kids had eaten. The atmosphere in this shelter was very warm, and it almost seemed as if the five families and 25 kids were one big family living together.

Doing this volunteer work made me very happy. I didn't feel proud of what I did, but I did feel satisfaction within myself because I knew that I had done something from which I normally would have backed away. And it was also something that gave other people hope not to give up, and that there was still a chance for them to live their life to the fullest. But doing this kind of work made me really upset, and in a way, resentful of all the things I have and take for granted. I know that I am living comfortably, getting a good education, and will probably have opportunities to do what I want. But, for the kids that I worked with, their future is just floating in the air. There are thousands of kids living just like this, and admiring the things which kids like me take for granted.

I feel as though I should be doing something for them and helping them in some way. But the more I worked with these kids, the more I felt by just visiting them and playing with them, I was helping them as much as I could. I realized that smiling at them and talking to them was just as easy as smiling and talking to anyone else. n

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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Lily">This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Jan. 11 at 4:40 pm
i love this so much!
Ramiro said...
Nov. 28, 2017 at 3:01 pm
Good article and happy that you realized that there are good homeless people .
Readerboy101 said...
Feb. 1, 2016 at 2:05 pm
Hello I love reading got any recommendations for homelessness books>>???
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