What Would You Do?

By Maria Galasso

Recently, while going about my afternoon, I had an encounter with a homeless woman which really made me think. Is there something I could have done to help? Will I ever see her again? What happened to her? Is she okay?

I got out of my car the other day, and sitting on a low fence in front of me, was a woman with her head down. I found myself looking at her. Just then, she looked up and said to me in a crisp, clear voice, “I’m praying!” I smiled and said, “praying is good.” I walked away and went into the store.

When I came out, she was still there praying. I yelled out, “God Bless You”, she said “God Bless You, have a good night.” I said, “You As Well!” Then she proceeded to stand up and stumble as she tried to walk. I watched her with all of her belongings in a cart in front of her. Her legs were bruised and off color. She had big tumors which looked so painful. Yet, when she talked to me, she seemed to not have a care in the world. She was so at peace talking to God. Now, I can guarantee she was not going to have a good night. I don’t know if she even had a place to sleep. Those few seconds made such an impression on me. Do people come into our lives, even if ever so brief, to allow us to think of someone other than ourselves? To give us the awareness to look around us? What is their story? What can I do? Am I doing enough? Am I doing anything?

A woman with her daughter came out of a nearby restaurant and glared at this woman with such disdain. They looked at me, with judgment, not verbalizing, but saying with their stare, “why would you talk to someone like that?”

Yet, all I could think about was how just having a few brief words with her really touched me.

Later on I could not stop thinking about her. I wondered if I could have done something for her. Maybe she needed to be in the hospital. Could I have reached out to someone at a nearby hospital? Did she want help? I just don’t know. I will probably never know.

What I do know is that our faith brought us together for just a brief moment. She made my day. I hope that in a small way, I gave her a bit of hope encouraging her to keep praying. I know that prayer cannot make tumors disappear or cure us of diseases or mental health issues, but prayer or seeing someone praying may have a surprising affect and bring unexpected lessons into our sight when we need them most.

I also know that reaching out to someone who is different from us and having a little conversation with them is not going to kill us. It’s going to make us think, it’s going to bring us closer to helping others. We are in this together. We can do small things to make a difference. Others will follow. We may not know how someone became homeless, but judging and pretending like we are better than them is not going to make our communities better. It’s not going to make homelessness go away.

I honestly don’t know what the answer is, but we are here and the time is now, so let’s work together to find solutions and to help someone when we can.

You can Volunteer to help at a shelter or nonprofit organization. Be kind and don’t judge. Say hello to someone you would not normally talk to. You may have more in common than you think and you could change a life, or at the very least, make someone’s day.

For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’~Deuteronomy 15:11