My eldest son, Jonathan, is a sensitive soul, although he does not show it very often. I believe he is in that awkward stage where he is attempting to define the man that he will be in the future. Does he go with the tough, ‘I-don’t-give-a-crap-about-anything’ attitude, or does he go with caring about others and having compassion for those less fortunate than himself? He’s shown a mixture of both, but when it comes to the homeless people in Richmond, his heart is on his sleeve.
Homelessness is something that occurs in every city in America. It is hard, when you are struggling yourself, to part with that last dollar in your wallet to help another human being. When you think about the big picture; however, that dollar you have to give could mean the difference between someone going hungry – again – or giving them the chance to buy some food for themselves or their family.
I’ve thought it many times myself, why can’t they just go get a job? Have you ever tried to apply for a job with no address, no phone, no way for the prospective employer to contact you if they decide to hire you? What if they do hire you? How do they get in touch with you to tell you that they need you to come in early for a shift? Ask you to work overtime?
You might be surprised to know this:
Despite the “Get a job” mentality people like to hold on to, 25 percent of homeless people are employed and of that group, 41% work full-time; 32 % work part-time; and 26% do labor or temp work. (Source: Forgotten Faces: The Homeless of Richmond, 2009)
Jonathan and Tre got a first-hand, up-close-and-personal experience of homelessness when we volunteered over the holidays to feed a group of homeless men at the Hope Rescue Mission in Reading, PA last year. Jonathan had an opportunity to talk with some of the men there that evening and, while he has not talked about it, the conversations that he had with these men made a lasting impression on him.
Monroe Park is situated at the intersection of Main Street and Belvidere Street in downtown Richmond. (620 West Main Street, Richmond, VA 23220). The park is a rolling 7.5 acres of trees and park benches in the shape of a pentagon with paved paths intersecting a cast iron fountain in the center of the park. It is considered to be the oldest park in Richmond and is named after James Monroe, the fifth President of the United States.
It is also home to many of Richmond’s homeless residents during the day. It is where the local charitable churches and feeding programs come to feed the hungry every Friday and Saturday. For some, it is the only meal that they will have all week, and some of them walk for hours just to be sure they are there on time. Organizations such as Arms Wide Open, H.O.P.E. Worldwide Ministries, and Food Not Bombs depend entirely upon donations to feed the homeless in our city.
[bctt tweet=”None of God’s people go hungry, says Sylvia Ross-Smith of H.O.P.E. Worldwide Ministries in #RVA #JonathansHeartProject” username=”KimAtLiah”]
Indeed. While many of the charitable organizations do their part to help feed the homeless, what about their everyday needs? Jonathan has asked me to help him organize putting together care packages for the homeless that he can pass out to those in need here in Richmond. We would need the following items:
- Gallon Sized Ziploc Bags (to put the items in and keep them dry and safe)
- Toothpaste & Toothbrushes
- Snacks / Granola Bars
- Gift Card to restaurants (Burger King, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Chickfila, etc.) or Grocery Stores (Martins, Food Lion, Kroger, Walmart)
- Shaving Cream
- GRTC Bus Pass
- Old Cell Phones you no longer use that have Wi-Fi capabilities with chargers (so that when near a free wi-fi site they can get on the internet to look for resources, jobs, help, etc.)
- Kleenex pocket tissues
- Antibacterial wipes
- Pocket-Size Hand sanitizer
- Mouthwash / Gum
- Bottled Water
We purchase the items above and create small care packages as our income allows us to. If you would like to help with the #JonathansHeartProject, you can send donations of the above items or contributions to help purchase the items needed. For more information please email me. It is our goal to be able to distribute these care packages to the homeless community in Richmond each month.
[bctt tweet=”Make a donation for the #JonathansHeartProject to help #RVAHomeless” username=”KimAtLiah”]
We thank you in advance for any items you can help contribute.