|Posted on February 10, 2014 at 2:35 PM|
"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my bretheren,
ye have done it unto me."
- Matt 25:40
Only a short while ago, if you would have asked me if there were homeless people in Cache Valley, I would have said "no" or "maybe 1 or 2." Am I naive? Yes, of course!! This past month, I have set out to find a way to help my needy neighbors. You know what I found!? There are a lot of homeless people in Cache Valley!
You don't believe me, do you... You are thinking to yourself, "Then why haven't I ever seen anyone like the man in the picture above?" The answer is because we are talking about a different kind of homelessness. The man in the picture is likely chronically homeless. Most of the homeless people in Cache Valley are temporarily homeless because of some misfortune. They are the type of people who have lost their jobs because of the economic downturn. Then they watched their savings disappear as they handed out resumes and filled out job applications. Eventually the mortgage payment couldn't be paid and banks kick both parents and children out of their homes. These are good people. They are our neighbors, our relatives, and our friends.
Do I have proof? Yes! Capsa (a facility who shelters victims of abuse) has told me that in the year of 2013 they had to turn away over 250 people with no where else to go. Why were they turned away? Two-thirds of them who were turned away were abuse victims who qualified for the program, but the facility was full. The other third were homeless people who did not meet the qualifications of the facility. Roughly 2/3 of those turned away were children!! I have also spoken with the LDS transient missionaries for the area and they say they average about 1 call per day of people who need a place to stay that night.
So, what is the current procedure in Cache Valley for these people? To send them to St. Anne's homeless shelter in Ogden. You may be saying, "What is wrong with that?" I have a few reasons.
First of all, is it really the responsibility of Ogden to take care of the poor in OUR community? We aren't incredibly overwhelmed with other social issues here in Logan. Surely we can find a way to take care "of the least of these, [our] bretheren" (Matt 25:40)
Second, remember that feeling you feel when you walk in your door after you have been away for a while? You may breathe a sigh of relief and perhaps even say to yourself "I'm home." Kids are great examples of this! They will often run into the house and call out "Mom, I'm home!" Why do we do this? Because it is a place we feel secure, loved, accepted, and safe. It is these things in a person's life that encourages them to love, serve, learn, forgive, and ultimatley succeed.
So, what does that have to do with anything? If you are a resident of Cache Valley, chances are you have been here for quite a while. Perhaps if you are like me, you have even lived here your entire life! Have you ever been away from Cache Valley for an extended period of time and then on your trip home you came out of Sardine Canyon and saw the valley before you? Did you ever feel the same way you did when you walked in the front door of your home? Have you ever breathed a sigh of relief and said "I'm home" as you looked out over the valley?
So now think about that for a moment. Imagine you had lost your home. It would feel like you had lost everything! It isn't until you go to the charitable organizations in the valley that you realize you had more to lose. They tell you that your only option besides sleeping in the canyon is to leave another home behind. This time you have to leave the comfort and security of Cache Valley to go to Ogden. Suddenly they don't even have the comfort of waking up to see the Wellsvile mountains! If this happened to me, I would suddenly lose all of my self-reliance and become completely dependent on others. Why? Basically everything I know is in Cache Valley. Not only would I need to rely on others for a roof and probably a meal, but suddenly I need help finding the grocery store, the employment center, the church, the gas station, etc.
I personally think that sending them out of Cache Valley is the most detrimental thing we can do for these people. Similar to the affects it would have on a child's success if they were removed from a loving secure family and home and placed in an orphanage. There is great power in the comfort of home!
Third, this forces children to leave their school. I think we would all agree that switching schools in the middle of a school year is more likely to decrease the child's chance for successful learning than if they had stayed in the same school until the end of the school year. On top of this, if the child were allowed to stay in the same school, their school would likely be the only constant in their life during this rough time. The more we can keep constant, familiar, and secure in their lives the better.
Fourth, there is currently no way to get homeless people to Ogden after regular business hours. This means that if someone comes looking for a place to stay that night and arrives at 5:30, there is no way to to get them to Ogden until 8 in the morning. Even worse, if they happen to be looking for shelter on the weekend, they have to wait until businesses open on Monday morning. So what are these people told to do in the mean time? Hunker down somewhere and wait for morning. What if it is the bitter cold of winter? Same scenario. There are many good people here in Cache Valley! Can't we put our heads together and find a way to solve this problem?
Fifth, some of the people who are being told to go to the Ogden shelter have expressed concern about returning to a previous addiction to drugs, alcohol, etc. It is unclear if these people had been residents of the shelter in years prior due to their addiction or perhaps they have connections and friends in the area who would influence them to return to their addictions. Either way, being in Logan has helped them stay sober. Isn't that an admirable quality? Yet, if they stay there is no respect or help for them. Can't we do something?
If you are interested in helping me find a way to fill the needs of our neighbors here in Cache Valley. Please shoot me an email at: [email protected]! There is no reason that people need to suffer or be rejected in such a wonderful community as Cache Valley!