Over the last month we have been going downtown to take cold bottled water to our homeless friends. The last week the temperatures have been to the extreme of almost 120 degrees. I know that a cold bottle of water isn’t going to fix someone’s life nor totally help with preventing heat stroke but it teaches everyone in my group to be thankful for what they have instead of being obsessed with the latest Xbox or PS – whatever. One of our key helpers is an older lady who actually had lived 8 years of her life on the street. She would be the one to help us understand how it would feel to be homeless and have people make derogatory statements against you.
I decided at the beginning of taking water to our homeless friends that we would walk a couple of blocks from our home base at A2J house to the area around CASS. The purpose of this wasn’t to torture anyone but help us be more aware of what it would be like to live in the heat all of the day. Yes it was 118 when we handed out water last Friday. I know that a few of the youth struggled with why are we doing this? Why can’t we just drive down and hand out the bottled water really fast and be off to cold drinks at QT.
I know that when our group is asked what they like doing the most will always be either helping the homeless or painting the houses of grandmas or grandpas. I know that the more ‘hands on’ opportunity I provide the more likely that someone will get why being thankful for everything is a key to understanding and appreciating their lives. I know that for most of my group living in air conditioning makes it so easy to be on the street for a short period of time. We had to walk probably 4-5 blocks to hand out water this last Friday and after about 20 minutes all of us were drenched in sweat before we go back to the A2J house. I did this to help everyone identify with those who are actually bedding out on the street at night and haven’t bathed in weeks.
I kidnapped my wife for an outing on Friday night. My intern and a couple of our teens decided to scour the house. The downside to their cleaning frenzy was that some how or another they popped the circuit breaker for our main AC unit. I tried everything to get the big unit to start back up. The unfortunate side to all of this was that it was the weekend and no AC techs were available to restore our upstairs AC. Last time this happened at our other house it became unbearable for everyone inside. Our present house has turned upstairs into the hot room but the downstairs is normal enough to be able to sleep at night.
It is easy to forget that most of the world lives without AC, running water and flush toilets. My point in writing is to help us better appreciate what we have instead of fixating on what we don’t have. It is so easy to see the glass as being half empty instead of being half full. I’m not thrilled that my main AC unit decided to die on the hottest day so far but I’m thankful that the little unit continues to crank out the coolness.
I know that every time we take cold bottled water to our homeless friends I’m surprised at how someone responds to this simple act of kindness. I’m truly blessed to see someone who looks exhausted and close to collapse drink their cold water and say THANKS. My hope is that those who have helped out will do this on their own when no one is pushing them to do it.