Somebody's Daughter

bold young girl

"If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one."  -Mother Teresa of Calcutta

I was stuck in traffic yesterday when I noticed this young woman. Not being able to stop I quickly grabbed my camera, zoomed in and took this shot.  I've never seen a young female  sitting on an expressway in the United States. 

It's usually homeless men asking for food or wanting to trade work for food. Notice on her sign she isn't asking for anything. Then I asked myself if I could have stopped what would I have given her? I had bottled water and a few dollars in my purse.

What my heart wanted to do was turn my car around, scoop her up and fix her world. That's Somebody's Daughter!

Unfortunately I think this scene will be going away any time soon. The National Center on Family Homelessness released a report on the extent of homelessness among America's children.  

The results were stunning: 1 out of every 50 children — around 1.5 million total children — will go to sleep this evening without a home reports Kristy Harden Smith.

What do you do when you pass a homeless person? Do you feel you can make a difference? Do you feel guilty when you walk or drive away?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jannie Funster May 13, 2009, 12:10 pm

    Yes I always feel guilty when I drive away or past, or avert my eyes when they come near as I’m waiting for the green light. Once in a while I give a dollar or two.

    I think one person CAN make a difference. Who knows how one positive action can reverberate outwards?

    Jannie Funster’s last blog post..Ordering The Funsterment

  • Kim May 13, 2009, 12:56 pm

    I generally feel a tad guilty. And then I get annoyed for feeling guilty.

    I give to the Salvation Army and Catholic Community Charities and the LDS Humanitarian Services. I give to organizations who take my donations and go out and try to make a difference in homeless people’s lives. Me giving them $2 or whatever may or may not help them up. It might help them buy drugs or alcohol for all I know. But me giving to these organizations helps meals be prepared and offered for the homeless. It helps counselors and health professionals be made available to the homeless. It helps shelters have cots and blankets and pillows.

  • Positively Present May 13, 2009, 1:18 pm

    Wow, that’s a powerful photo. Thanks for posting it and making us think about situations like these. It’s hard to know what is best to do when one encounters a homeless person. I’ve read articles about how it’s actually worse for them to give them money, but, to be honest, if I have any cash on me (which is rare) I will usually give it to him/her. I try not to feel guilty if I don’t have anything to give because I don’t think that helps the situation. One thing that makes me feel good is volunteering. Helping out families and children in need in my community makes me feel great and it lessens the blow for me when I cannot offer anything to the homeless person on the side of the road.

    Positively Present’s last blog post..when life gives you lemons…

  • jenn May 13, 2009, 6:54 pm

    wow that really makes me think. She isn’t asking for anything and your right she is somebody’s daughter and wouldn’t we want people to help our children???

    I give to the local food bank here because as a child I had to go there with my parents. I also help out at our local community shelter.

    I think the next time I see someone at the side I’m going to try and give them some money or food??? don’t know but thanks for posting this … it will make me think more now!! What can I do to help ….

    xo

    jenn’s last blog post..dreaming…

  • Patricia May 13, 2009, 7:41 pm

    If I am on foot I usually have a conversation with the people, this is now on just about every street corner in our city. I always give the street musicians my audience and my change, they are working.
    We had lots of our construction work on our house by homeless people, and my children’s school was about 20% homeless children. Our church does sleeping spots for women and children and we house tent city every few months ( the working poor who have lost their homes)
    My children and I cook at the soup kitchen (tho we make enchiladas for about 125) and we give generously to the Food Bank and Other Bank…Our city has a huge center for teens in need and they work the community gardens providing food for the FB and Senior Center.
    Our taxes go to provide the Library, and so many services and we cover health care for children and Wal-Mart employees and their families.
    I have written dozens of grants for the tribal populations….
    My heart goes out to these folks beside the road, and the reason we have so many folks coming through is that we are the Capital City
    I wish I could make the world right, and I know I personally do enough….
    Although a picture speaks loudly, sometimes it does not say enough
    Good to bring up the image to our minds eye

    Patricia’s last blog post..Dawn and Release

  • Mary B Sheffield May 13, 2009, 8:45 pm

    This young lady breaks my heart. Her eyes are haunting. I cringe at the thought of what she has seen in her young life. Not to have food no bed to lay your head on is horrible.
    My family and I have a game we play called pass it on and we have done it for years. Anyone in our house as we are out and about can say ( pass it on ) and it will bring a smile to our family of 6. This is when we observe any one in need that we can help someone will whisper the magic words . We have paid for the food of someone behind us inline. We have dropped off winter coats to someone we see homeless and cold. Or it could be as small as a penny on the horse in the grocery store.
    But to watch as our family has grown and how pass it on has made the impact
    is a great to watch. I watched our son last week as he returned from college stop on the side walk while a young man was playing a guitar. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his last of his money (which was not much) Threw it in the guitar case . But the best part was when he paused and looked him right in the eye and said have a great day. Because wether this young man knew it or not he mattered. So we went and bought all 3 of us a coffee 🙂

  • Tess The Bold Life May 13, 2009, 8:46 pm

    Jannie,
    You’re absolutely correct who knows how one positive action can reverberate outwards? Have you ever heard of the butterfly effect? When a butterfly flaps it’s wings in China it affects the weather in San Diego. Thanks for helping one person at a time (we know it’s more than that) and thanks for being the funny, crazy, quirky person you are!

    Kim,
    I applaud you for all that you do. You have a wonderful future ahead of you because it will all boomerang back. You truely are a kind and generous person changing the world. The world needs more thoughtful people like you. Give up guilt and being annoyed and celebrate your generous spirit!

    Positively present,
    I agree. Being a volunteer is hands on help, caring, and joining. I don’t like to judge what should or shouldn’t be given or when. I think to give in any way is a choice that makes life better for all involved.

    I’ve thought about the money and buying alchohol or whatever but a couple of bucks won’t go far. It’s that feeling I have and the smile the person has that keeps me givng even just a little. True moments of joy for me.

    Jenn,
    Wow giving back to the same place where you were helped. How amazing is that? You are truly a blessing to all involved.

    Pat,
    Thanks for your long comment and pouring your generous heart out on my blog. You are a amazing! Your list goes on and on and even ends wanting to do more. The people in your community are blessed to have you and like Jannie says who knows how that affects the rest of the world?!? We do right??

    Tess The Bold Life’s last blog post..Somebody’s Daughter

  • Chania Girl May 13, 2009, 10:59 pm

    This is a tough one because the town where I live has “regulars.” Here in Crete there is a very large gypsy community who do not work or who are forced to take the lowest level jobs to survive. Every Sunday at our favorite cafe, we are met by the familiar faces of the same children (or moms with children) coming by asking for food or money or sometimes selling things (like flowers, a song on an accordion, kleenexes). What do you do? Well, my fiance asks them if they’re hungry, and if they say “Yes” he orders them a sandwich or something to eat. I think this is a great thing to do. (Yes, we have been turned down for the sandwich offer, though. We have even been told, “No. We want ice cream.”) When it’s just me on the street, though, it’s not that easy. A lot of the time I don’t have change. A lot of the time, it’s the same person at the same place every day. If I go by there every day and give every day … ? When I have money, I try to buy something from them. It keeps everything much more humane and less like charity. If the man is selling kleenexes, I accept the kleenexes, even if I don’t need them; that way my money doesn’t become a burden of charity but a transaction between two equals … which we all are (there but for the grace of god go I).

    Chania Girl’s last blog post..The Floor is Yours …

  • Shankar May 13, 2009, 11:27 pm

    Tess!
    Once again you’ve triggered a new emotion. I’m simply disturbed to see a picture of a girl, hungry & homeless. In India this kind of a scene is so common but the difference is, people rarely notice them, because they’ve abandoned themselves to help others. No matter what we go through but we must have a soft corner for these people. I really feel guilty for them, and I usually prefer to make my pocket empty for these people. But I equally feel guilty for making them more dependent on others.

    I feel that we must demonstrate something constructive too, to upgrade their self esteem. They simply lack self respect. Though it will take a lot of courage, efforts, energy ant time to do that but without that the condition will only worsen.

    Thank you so much Tess! You always prove yourself to be very kind, loving and caring too. I would have loved you more this time if you’d have come with a bit of your pure suggetions, too this time. May God bless you!

    Shankar.

  • janice May 14, 2009, 3:01 am

    We give directly to Oxfam every month, and here in the UK, there’s a magazine called The Big Issue which can only be sold by the homeless who then keep a percentage of the profits. That little bit of income allows them to live in hostels and turn their lives around. I support one guy called Eddie who’s amazing. A sober alcoholic, he’s recently applied to be a mentor for troubled young people. I support Eddie because he inspires and touches others, cheering up old ladies, listening to the lonely and never, ever complaining or making people feel obliged to buy. I was deeply touched when he said our weekly chats had inspired him. It’s so easy to allow the homeless to become invisible. We’re all that bit closer to it these days.

    I also encourage all of my ‘coachees’ who are decluttering to take blankets, clothes and goods to goodwill centres or even better, hand them over directly to a homeless person with a smile and some home-made food.

    Excellent post, Tess, as always.

    janice’s last blog post..My Journey to Ithaka

  • Kristy May 14, 2009, 4:34 am

    When I pass a homeless person, usually the first thought that crosses my mind is ‘what’s their story.’ Afterall, everyone has a story. I feel some guilt but usually I am overwhelm with compassion and a reminder to give back–i.e. money, volunteering, prayers, a hug, a conversation, a water etc. I truely believe I have a social responsibility to do unto others I’d have done unto me. I have no crystal ball of what my future holds. Homelessness could happen to anyone these days; there is no exclusion. However, I am reminded of how important it is to be grateful to have food, clothes, and shelter (our basic needs). I can make a difference. All it takes is a small gesture, a small act of kindness–whether a dollar, a water, or a smile. I believe those all can make a difference. If anything, that woman is reminded we are all human and someone cares.

  • Suzi May 14, 2009, 7:30 am

    I have not seen a child on a street corner before … mostly just the same, few ragged men, and a couple women. In our area, the homeless children are much more covert, as child welfare service will pick them up very quickly and they will disappear into the social services network. I know a few of them through my high school age children, and they know that they are welcome to have a meal with my family, and I have given away coats, and hats and blankets, and a couple have slept on my sofa. They know I will not give a hand out, but they also know that I am the first person that will offer resources for them to make their situation better, for real.

    It is difficult to see these people, no matter their age. However, I DO NOT feel guilty! I spent 18 years of my life living on the very edge that financial situation. I know how hard it is to be there, and I know how hard it is to get out of it! What I feel now is EMPATHY. I do not give them cash. I will give them things, or drive them to resources that can really help them. Street performers I do not mind giving cash, they are earning it. If someone were to come to my door and want to cut my grass, I will pay them for it, even though my finances are still tight. During my difficult times, I did NOT want to be given a hand out! I wanted the opportunity to earn my way!

    I once saw a man with a “will work for food” sign, and asked him if he was serious … he said yes, so I got him to go with me, and I took him to some one I knew and got him a job, with a real company, that paid a real wage … the first day, he left for lunch and never came back!

    I live daily with a fear that my job will some how slip away from me, and that I might find myself there again, though my employment is somewhat more secure than many others right now. But, I know that if I were to find myself in dire straights again, I would be able to handle it … I have experience, I have a renewed esteem, I have different resources, and I have knowledge and confidence that I would rebound again! I would once again be a stronger, more compassionate person for whatever experience God allows me to have!

  • Karin May 14, 2009, 7:49 am

    one idea i was given long ago and have tried to stick to is to always have an extra bottle of water in the car and some type of snack that doesn’t go bad or melt like granola bars or peanut butter/cheese crackers. then you are helping to feed that person, but not giving them money which may or may not be used to buy drugs and alcohol. i think in a situation like this, where it is a young girl, i would feel obliged to stop and try to get her to a shelter. unfortunately, most of the time the people who are begging are potentially dangerous and as a single woman usually travelling alone in my car i don’t feel safe to pick them up or even get out and have a conversation with them. it is also a good idea to have some business cards of the local shelter to hand out so as to at least try to direct that person to a spot where they can get a hand up, as someone said…. and not just a handout.

  • Tess The Bold Life May 14, 2009, 9:24 am

    Chania Girl,
    I think you and your fiance have are doing wonderful things. It doesn’t matter how much we give or whom we choose to give it too. It’s the giving that counts. I don’t judge it. We either are adding to the world or taking from it. I admire you both for making a difference any way you choose. I am grateful to be your blogging buddy.

    Sahnkar,
    Thanks for your wonderful compliments. Yes you and I are very alike and I appreciate you stopping by. It’s difficult to make suggestions on how others can give. I only know what’s right for me.

    Personally I’m a people person and like to do hands on things. I like to do things like work at soup kitchens, clean up after hurricanes, teach English etc. Each moment we are giving out of love touches some one and means more than we ever know.

    Janice,
    What a wonderful organization you have and how blessed they are to have you. Doesn’t it feel great to give out of love? Eddie came across your path for a reason and you were ready and willing to step up to the plate and make a difference.

    Kristy,

    I believe also that a smile, a kind word anything…can make the world a more loving place. I’m amazingly honored to have you share your thoughts.

    Suzi,
    Your child welfare? Sounds like their system works well! Welcoming these teens in your home is incredible!

    You are right it can happen to any of us at anytime. I also believe we are stronger because of our difficulties in life. Especially if we learned of them. Thanks for your long comment, for being the person you are and caring enough to share with us!

    Tess The Bold Life’s last blog post..Somebody’s Daughter

  • Tess The Bold Life May 14, 2009, 9:26 am

    Karin,
    I’ve never thought of the business cards from shelters. what a great idea! If I could do it again I would have turned around, stopped on the side of the expressway and at the very least spoken to her. Thanks for being you and sharing generous self with us today!

    Tess The Bold Life’s last blog post..Somebody’s Daughter

  • Hilary May 14, 2009, 4:46 pm

    Hi Tess .. that’s a humbling photo .. and I’m certain a great many people with absolutely nothing have so much to offer .. it’s just so difficult for them at that point in their lives .. everything becomes defended .. there are no explanations logical that can help them .. they’ve so sadly become embroiled in an enormous hole. I admire those that come out .. crawl out, struggle out, win out .. she looks so down.

    Your readers comments are so salient too … I look forward to the day when I’m free and have more cash to actually make an impact on the lives of the homeless – so many worthy people do so much, I would like to support their ranks ..

    Thanks for highlighting her plight .. I do hope her soul is rescued ..
    Hilary Melton-Butcher
    Positive Letters

    Hilary’s last blog post..A journey of surprises …

  • Yum Yucky May 15, 2009, 11:27 am

    Nine times out of ten, I’ll give. But guilt may come anyway if I feel I didn’t give enough of what I had available. I don’t carry much cash around, usually less than $10, so *most* of the time I give all I have – the extra few dollars given won’t make or break me for that day anyway.

    I also give food. I came out of pizza shop once and gave a man 2 slices, but he was immediately scolded by a worker that told him to stop begging.

    How old do you think this girl is? 18, 19?

    Yum Yucky’s last blog post..Keen Advice for the Arse in Your Life

  • Liara Covert May 15, 2009, 7:52 pm

    Tess, during undergrad university, I lived in a big city. I regularly encountered homeless people and decided to periodically give away my lunch. I always asked if they were alergic to what I had. On different occasions since thn, I have given away my breakfast or something I sense is needed. When individuals make an effort to do something like play music or even wash car windows at an intersection, I give them something. Kind words and loving conversation are also more meaningful than many people realize. It is never about money. It is all about empathy and compassion. Guilt is an illusion some people create in the mind It distracts from a refusal to feel and share love. Fear and other negative energy invite conquering inside the self. The Higher Spirit always comes to you with honor, and without shame.

    Liara Covert’s last blog post..Grasp an unfathomable mystery

  • Janene Dalton August 26, 2009, 8:48 am

    One kind act can impact greatly

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