Homeless statistics are startling. The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (2007) estimates 3.5 million people, 1.35 million of them children, experience homelessness in a given year. If you are in a big city, you probably pass homeless people on the street who face this crisis of poverty. You may stop and give them a few bucks and get street wise.
I pass dozens of homeless people everyday in downtown Chicago on my commute from the el to my office in River North. When I'm in that area at night, I'm startled to see so many more homeless. I see tons of homeless people in other big cities such as on a recent trip to San Francisco and every time I'm in Manhattan.
There are ways to help fight homelessness. For example, Street Wise magazine raises awareness of poverty and homelessness in Chicago, across the nation, and around the world. There are interesting articles with a Chicago bend. Most importantly, its proceeds help their staff stay employed who sell their paper on street corners.
I stop and talk to Streetwise vendors. They are an amazing organization that helps Chicago area men and women facing homelessness with a combination of social services and immediate access to gainful employment while working to find them permanent housing. I've met extraordinary men and women who sell Streetwise magazines to help themselves.
Those men and women, rich in spirit and heart, are a part of our community. So, look them in the eye and give them the respect they deserve.
A gentleman named Arnold has worked the Diversey and Pine Grove beat since before our two-and-a-half year old was born. Now, he greets my Mom, our baby and their friends every morning boy. He makes everyone smile. The magazine printed a beautiful tribute our friend Mary Ann submitted with this photo about Arnold (he is holding our baby in the photo) in last week's issue.
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