Hunger, thirst, insecurity, and shame are all dreadful realities in the lives of homeless people, but nothing is as awful as sometimes being judged by others as less than human. For those looking from the outside in, it's easy to forget that being homeless is less a matter of identity and more a matter of circumstance. Homeless people do not choose to be poor - most of the time, they are victims of terrible events. As such, they deserve all the help they can get, not only in terms of financial relief, but especially in being reminded that they, too, are important human beings.
In Tempe, Arizona, ASU professor Neal A. Lester does his part in helping the homeless through his long-running outreach program, " Spontaneous Service Saturdays". The program took root in 2014, when Lester thought it would be a good idea to ask students and community supporters to gather together and donate clothes and shoes from their closets. The initial effort was such a success, and the need for it so desperate, that Lester and the people of Arizona decided to turn it into a bimonthly event. Since then, every other Saturday, homeless people, students, and volunteers all gather on the sidewalk between W. Jefferson and W. Madison, where the homeless can try on clothes and shoes, as well as take home other necessary items.
At Sprinter Rentals, we were also inspired by the efforts of the Arizona community to bring a bit of hope into the lives of those who need it the most. Along with making personal contributions, we decided to help the Spontaneous Service Saturdays by providing a cargo Sprinter van that could be used to carry all the gathered clothes and products. Klaus Doering, Director of Operations at Sprinter Rentals, also took part in the event as a volunteer. Following the lead of Neal Lester, he helped move and distribute the clothes, while chatting with both the other volunteers and the homeless people that had joined them.
Through our small contributions, we were reminded that while volunteering, serves primarily those who are less fortunate, at the same time it helps us reconnect with all those things we take for granted. In this particular case, it showed us that we should feel fortunate for having a place to live and sleep and for enjoying a measure of human kindness in our everyday lives.
Watch a video from the event: