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Homelessness

My Take

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There are certain things we see we wish we could unsee.  

In the past few days, we have watched sad and violent images from Afghanistan. We have seen the deadly results and devastation of a flash flood in Waverly. Sometimes we see these images up close and personal in our daily lives with no need for videotape.  

The reality of these images gives them even more impact as you try to erase them from your minds.  

Last week I was driving on the way to have a couple of tires replaced on my car.  

It was around 8 a.m. but the air was already getting warm and muggy.  

I noticed a woman on the side of the road. I would guess she was around 40 years old. She was pushing a shopping cart stacked four or five feet high with what I guess were all of her earthly belongings.  

As you might guess, she was struggling to push the cart, even on level ground.  

What bothers me more than the image is I didn’t stop to help her.  

I don’t know where she was going or where she had been.  

When I came back from having my tires replaced, I noticed she hadn’t made much progress. She was sitting on the curb to catch her breath before moving on. 

If you think you are having a rough day, this woman may have had a rougher one.  

Shortly after I passed her the second time a deluge of rain began to fall, and she and her possessions were caught in the middle of it.  

I haven’t seen her since. I don’t know if she was looking for the place on the Duck River where a large homeless population has been established or if she found shelter somewhere.  

In this column I often reveal less than flattering things about myself. And this one is unfortunately no exception. I should have stopped and helped her.  

She might not have wanted my help, but I should have tried.  

Reliving my failure isn’t helping her, but I can’t shake my failure to respond to a need.  

When I lived in Nashville the homeless were very visible. Walk to a Nashville Predators hockey game on any given night and you pass through a gauntlet of people asking for money. Most of the exit ramps off of the interstates have people asking for help. You can’t help them all and you can’t help but wonder the motivations of some.  

Shelbyville has seen an increase of homeless people. It is difficult to go anywhere without being approached for “a little change”.  

I used to give bottles of cold water to a person stationed near Kroger, but I haven’t seen her in a while. 

Many of the churches locally help by serving food and offering clothing. We are known as a county with cheap housing available but obviously there are many who can’t or won’t find proper shelter. C.R.O.S.S. Shelter is the only local shelter listed on the Internet.  

If there are more that is great. So many more in Bedford County seem to be living in a less than ideal situation like that woman with the overflowing shopping cart.  

I will always wish I hadn’t passed her by. I pray she found the help she needed. 

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