Writing from a different perspective here. A woman's perspective. On homelessness.
As I think back to the beginning of Beard & Tackle and the heart of the business model (giving back to others), I am forced to look at the way homelessness is viewed in our culture. As a woman, I think it easy to be scared, frightened, or even disgusted by what you might see on the streets. The change in my heart on homelessness actually began when I read the book Same Kind of Different As Me several years ago, it is an intriguing and inspiring true story to say the least. If you haven't read it, I'd encourage you to check it out.
Anyway, back to this perspective. You see, I think it is "normal" in our society for women to hide in fear or run for cover when they see a homeless person in sight and/or approaching them. I will admit that was always me in the past. It's not like I was actually running away or anything, but I for sure was avoiding any eye contact or social engagement with them at all costs. Now, I am not saying that today I will be jumping out of my car when I see a homeless person when I am by myself. Of course I still use caution and am aware of my surroundings. But this perspective I am referring to is more of an attitude of how you view, well, anyone really.
There is a deep longing in everyone's soul to feel hope, purpose, and significance. Do we or should we expect anything less from our homeless population? At Beard & Tackle, we are firm believers that everyone has a significant purpose. And this does not exclude the homeless. What if you looked into the eyes of a homeless man or woman and saw them for who they really are? Or what if you looked through the grunge and dirt and saw someone hurt, lost, and looking for a purpose? I believe it's what's missing in much of how we react to our homeless population.
This leads back to the post (Clear Vision=Successful Mission) about our night out celebrating our launch, where we ran into a homeless man...who really, just wanted a listening ear. It was mentioned that he kept referring back to me and saying he saw a "sparkle in my eye" and I think I can explain what he was referring to. When he approached us, after being turned away by many others, I was standing next to Andy and I didn't move. The reason I mention how I was standing is I think most women would curl up close to her right hand man, clinch his arm and stand back with fear in her eyes. I stood there, calm without reservation or fear. I can admit this is probably one of the first encounters where I reacted in this way. And he noticed. Now whether or not he was telling us the truth, or if his story or needs were real are superfluous, because in this moment, I truly believe he was searching for some hope, purpose, and significance. To be treated as a human. A real person. With a past and a story. Isn't that just like all of us? We all have a past, a story...a purpose. And while we may deal with it differently, does that mean we are to treat the homeless like they are less-than or unworthy for something as simple as a conversation?
When I visited with the founders of Our Calling, I was surprised to hear that Christmas is one the hardest times for the homeless. It is a time when our society actually notices them and throws money or lavish gifts to them. This generosity can lead to more drug/alcohol abuse, looting, and stealing among others in their population. I'm not suggesting that we shouldn't take heart and give, but rather the way in which we do it maybe needs to be reevaluated. At Our Calling, they provide showers, washers and dryers and at least one meal a day, along with mentors and programs to aid in rehabilitation. There are some homeless people who Our Calling have had relationships with for over 10 years. It's not just about "getting them off the streets" it's about a relationship, a foundation. Change can happen when we invest into the lives of others and who they are as a core, not just a quick fix to make things appear "better".
In this season of giving, would you consider giving with a cause? B&T gives 10% of profit to Our Calling and their rehabilitation mission to the homeless population. Let's remember, everyone has a significant purpose and if B&T can assist in people understanding their true worth, then our job is being accomplished.
We hope you join us on this journey of Beards With A Mission.