Homeless Helpers

Moving back to Georgia has been an adjustment for my kids. For me, I feel like I was welcomed back by the city I love with open arms. But things are a bit different here. We don’t live in Athens proper but we head there on the regular. It’s a progressive city. The people are diverse. Creativity blooms here like no other place I’ve been.

One of the major differences (for them) has been the homeless. Where we moved from, you didn’t encounter homeless. In Nashville, yes, absolutely. But we weren’t that close to Nashville. There were no resources for homeless folks in the area where we lived (one of my frustrations as a social worker).

A few weeks ago we were walking around downtown Athens and a man stopped me and asked for change. I didn’t have any and I told him I was sorry. We kept walking. My sweets (remember she’s 5, almost 6 ) said she bet he asked me for change because he was hungry. She had a sandwich bag of Goldfish crackers in her hand and said she should have given him her Goldfish. She talked about giving that man her Goldfish over and over with such regret. When we walked back through he wasn’t there.

Since then she’s talked about that man and her Goldfish numerous times. Today we were running errands and going to check out a couple of gymnastic places. She told me she had decided she wanted me to take her downtown. She wanted to get a bunch of bags of goldfish and some cold water bottles. She said she wanted me to walk around with her so she could give them out to any homeless people we could find. My sweets said to me, “It’s too hot to sit outside all day. They need cold water. I think some of them are hungry. I want to give them snacks, too.” I told her I loved the idea and was happy to help her. She became very excited and said “We can call ourselves Homeless Helpers!”.

I’m not sure about the name, but I have to say I’m in love with her heart. It’s often funny to me that this child, who will cut you with a look, has the biggest heart. She is so full of empathy and compassion. This afternoon I will go and buy a case of water to put in the fridge, so they get nice and cold. Tomorrow on the way downtown, we’re going to stop at Sam’s Club and pick up some snacks. Armed with our red wagon we’re going to go and hand out cold waters and snacks. Just me and my sweet little homeless helper.

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