This has nothing to do with outdoors, or wandering. It does have to do with people, people that need any help we can offer.
On my way to Maryland, I stopped at a rest area about ten miles outside of Indianapolis. While there I had a conversation with a woman named Angie. Angie is homeless, a result of she and her husband both being laid off around the same time. She explained that they usually spent their nights at local shelters or the salvation army, but since those places are first come first served, sometimes they can’t get a place. So they bounce from rest stop to rest stop throughout the night. Indiana and a lot of other states have limits on how long you’re allowed to stay at rest stops. Indiana’s limit it three hours. She approached me with her “grand baby” in her arms and asked me for food, or change. I gave her one of the boxes of cliff bars I had in the back seat along with a few dollars, and we continued talking. When I asked her name, she said Angie, but informed me that she would not give me her last name, as she’s had people report her to the police before. She explained that her daughter,the mother of her “grand baby (I don’t know why that particular term cut me deeper than if she’d just said “granddaughter”, but man it did) had a drug problem, and she didn’t trust her to look after the baby. I kept chatting with her for a few minutes, and she went on to say that since she has a car, they sometimes get turned away at shelters, and that even when she does get a place the shelters in Indianapolis have been struggling lately. Angie attributed this to the growing homeless population in the city, and it would seem she’s not wrong. This article explains that while the national average has seen a decrease in homeless populations, by about 18%, Indianapolis has seen it increase by 21% in 2013, and by 19% in 2014. The local shelters simply don’t have the resources to support this influx and it was incredibly humbling to talk to Angie about it. She explained that any money people give her, goes to putting enough gas in the car that they can get from one rest stop to another when they get turned away at the shelters, and driving her husband around to job interviews at local supermarkets and convenience stores.
This isn’t just a documentation of my experience. I hope that Angie gets help, but she’s a victim of a much larger problem in Indianapolis. Not just the shrinking job market, but the limited resources of the shelters. The homeless rate seems to be growing this year as well according to Angie. It’s a shameful situation, and it doesn’t only exist there. Wherever you are, there’s a homeless demographic, and the truth is it’s not that hard to help them. You or I won’t personally solve the issue, but we can support the people who are working to by donating to shelters in your area. That doesn’t have to mean money. Sometimes they just need an extra set of hands. Or if you’re one of my outdoorsy followers, perhaps you can give some of the meat you harvested this season. There are a million reasons not to help, and I can understand them. However, the reasons to help are much more. In the article previously linked, it explains that the two groups that suffer the most tend to be women in domestic danger (That statement is backed up here), and veterans. These are two groups of people who have truly known suffering, and because there are so many of them, we simply offer them more of it.
People worry about being scammed, or are too busy. I get it, I really do. So, instead of arguing about why you should, I’m going to leave you with a few links to places you can donate to help, as well as a directory of homeless shelters, where you can find your local one and start helping out any way you can.