by Jen Guynn
Terence Lester, the founder of Love Beyond Walls, wanted to help others understand the realities of those experiencing homelessness and poverty. He was challenged to become homeless himself, and he decided to learn more about what it was like. Reflecting on his experience, Lester says, “After a while, you get used to people passing by.” See Lester talk about his what he learned and his motivation for creating change:
That statement has stuck with me. There are more than four thousand people experiencing homelessness in Atlanta. Four thousand people who have gotten used to being passed by. Nationwide, the number of those experiencing homelessness climbs to half a million, and more than 200,000 are families with children.
No one should get used to being ignored.
At Pebble Tossers, we regularly engage with organizations serving the city’s homeless population. One of the lessons we always share with our volunteers is the importance of learning someone’s name and then saying it. Our names are special to us. They identify us and proclaim our uniqueness. They are the first step towards a relationship. And research has shown that hearing one’s name activates brain regions differently. It’s important.
For many people without a place to call home, they may go long stretches without ever hearing their own name said aloud. That’s why we encourage volunteers to always try to learn and use names. It’s a simple act of care and dignity. When you are serving those who are used to being passed by, a kind smile and a personal greeting can make a big impact.
Homelessness is our Focus Area for the month of March, and we are partnering with The Packaged Good, Dwell with Dignity and CHRIS 180 for our Spotlight Project on March 3rd! Join us as we paint doors and canvases that will be used to welcome home people transitioning into housing. It’s a beautiful opportunity to come alongside someone making a change in their life and to cheer them on as we welcome them to their new home.
In our volunteer efforts, as well in our everyday lives, we want to see the people in our paths. How can make sure we don’t get used to passing by people so they don’t get used to being passed by? When can we introduce ourselves and learn another’s name? How can we show care and interest and make someone’s day a little brighter?
We are always asking ourselves these kinds of questions at Pebble Tossers, and we know you are too. Come serve with us and be a part of seeing and engaging with those experiencing homelessness. You can find our service projects for March (and beyond) here.