WCSC Student Blog

Putting a Face to Homelessness

June 18th, 2010 – by Emily Benner

“Near the Columbia Heights metro station I saw a man who’s legs were laying in the middle of the street. I was tired and had my ipod in and wouldn’t have seen him except that a couple people around me were looking at him worriedly. They ended up deciding it was okay but I was worried and went over to just ask him to move his legs out of the street so they wouldn’t be smashed. I wasn’t sure if he was drunk or just exhausted. When I asked him to move his legs he looked up and whimpered “Help me!”. I had only planned on making sure he was out of physical harm but suddenly that seemed cruel so I said “Ok, I’ll help” and I brought him into Panda Express and helped him eat some food. He had just come out of the hospital. His name was Bill, he tearfully told me his whole family was dead, he was old and frail but assured me he could do construction work. He didn’t finish his whole meal and eventually left to ostensibly go sleep in a shelter. I have no idea if he ever got there. I think about Bill frequently now. I think about him vis a vis DC cutting it’s social safety nets, or health care or all these issues where we’re talking about the “poor” and “less fortunate”. It’s easy to get caught in abstractions but Bill is a real person and he’s not dispensable.” -Anonymous response on spring semester student survey

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