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Every night in San Diego County more than 8,576 people will go to sleep without a roof over their heads. California alone has almost half (47%) the homeless population in the United States. In this country, one in 30 children experiences homelessness every year. We have a greater homeless population here in the United States than any other industrialized country in the world.
What horrifying statistics. But if you are a San Diego resident it probably less shocking, because in most urban or beach neighborhoods it's visible everywhere. Even on the on and off-ramps of the freeways, there are people holding signs hoping for help with their situation. The astronomical cost of living plus some of the best weather in the country - it makes some sense right? If we go a step further and factor in how many of us are a paycheck away from losing our own homes, how much bigger would the statistics be? Most of us, if we're not there now, have been there. Affordable housing is one of the greatest factors in the homelessness crisis. It's hard to face. People on the streets or at stop lights constantly asking for money, food, cigarettes, and coffee. Can we be blamed for looking the other way?
Personally, I am a believer in humanity. Most of us are doing the best we can with the tools we've been given. One of the many things I believe most of us struggle with issues of social devastation is the feeling of powerlessness. Will $1 or even $5 change someone's situation? Can we afford to give it? Do we have judgment or concerns about where that money goes? There is any number of questions we ask ourselves, and so few answers it seems. If we knew better, could we do better?
As the holiday season approaches it may be time for us all to look outside ourselves and think about what we CAN do, versus what we can't. San Diego Social Leagues has recently partnered up with the San Diego Rescue Mission. The San Diego Rescue Mission does amazing things and there are a ton of different ways to participate. You can make a financial gift, but you can also volunteer your time, or attend the graduation ceremony of people who have successfully completed the first year of their recovery program.
This is huge....
Not everyone has family, or the family they do have is estranged or out of touch. We have the power to make people feel celebrated and accomplished just by showing up. You can donate your goods. It's the holiday season. For those of us who are lucky enough to receive gifts make time to clear out what you no longer use. We all have things we could live without that would make a difference to those who have nothing or are in the process of trying to rebuild their lives starting from the ground up.
Join San Diego Social Leagues and be part of a team of rad people who also believe in giving their time and energy to an amazing cause. Money is great, but if you don't feel as if you can contribute that way, there are tons of other things we can do. It's as simple as making eye contact next time someone asks you for money. It's not just about handing out a dollar, it's about humanity.
Treating someone with humanity is bigger sometimes than anything else. Dissipate your own feeling of powerlessness. I promise you it is the biggest gift you can give yourself this holiday season.