Nearly 60,000 people are homeless in Santa Monica, California. With a number that large it can be hard to imagine how to help. Jan Shepard set out to do what she could to help by taking homeless community members out to lunch two to three times a week.
“I first became aware of homelessness when I gave up my car and started walking everywhere. The more I walked, the more I saw the city from a different perspective. I saw homeless people everywhere. It was quite an eye opener,” Shepard said.
It is easy for some people to look past homeless people on the street and continue to ignore them. For others it’s not as easy because they can relate to being invisible.
“I can see beyond people’s outer because I used to be 350 pounds. I know what it was like to feel that you’re not your body,” Shepard said.
As Jan continued to meet the members of the homeless community in Santa Monica, she learned that they weren’t so different from her.
“I learned that everybody needs connection. People are lonely. People want to be heard. People want to share and that people are loving,” Shepard said.
The more Jan learned about their lives and their situations she learned that there is a large diversity in causes for homelessness. Some people were just out of prison, many had lost their jobs and a few were schizophrenic.
The solution for homeless that Jan discovered was one-to-one caring and support for the local homeless community. What homeless people want more than anything is for people to be kind and not look down on them. To be treated like a human being.
If you want to help your local homeless community take a homeless friend to lunch OR donate to AFTS so we can!