How to See Homelessness and Homeless Persons with Dignity

Updated on November 8, 2017
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Janis is heavily involved in community service which includes running a bi-weekly breakfast program for the homeless and families in need.

A Man of Dignity Without a Home

We should consider it a blessing to have an affordable home where we live comfortably. Most homeless don't have a permanent place to stay.
We should consider it a blessing to have an affordable home where we live comfortably. Most homeless don't have a permanent place to stay. | Source

Interaction with Homeless Persons

What type of contact have you had with homeless persons?

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How Do You See Homeless People?

The way you view a homeless person depends on your assumptions about his or her situation.

Your values, religious beliefs, your political persuasions, socioeconomic status and work ethics are directly related to how your form those assumptions.

Even your stereotypes about culture, gender roles, and perhaps, race influence how you perceive the homeless.

The next time you pass by a homeless person on the street, try to remove all assumptions, values, beliefs, and stereotypes from your mind and see a person who was born a child of God with humanity and dignity.

The following poems attempt to give a different perspective on how we can view the homeless.

"Hungry Souls"

Flocking in from the early morning cold

for a place to meet and greet.

Bringing stories and histories untold,

they find comfort in a table and a seat.

Their lives have dignity and pride

Stuffed in duffel bags.

The shame and disgrace they hide

behind incomplete degrees and dog tags.

Lost men with hungry hearts,

Looking for meaning in a warm meal.

Food for the soul served from carts,

Comforts, sustains, and heals.

The nurtured souls of men now warm and layered,

Return to their lives strengthened with food, fellowship, and prayer.


JLE 2009

Some Homeless Choose the Streets

A lifestyle on the street is a way of life for many.
A lifestyle on the street is a way of life for many. | Source

"A Cure For All Seasons"

In the dead of winter we are sheltered;

Protected by the numbing sub-zero temperatures that shield

Us from feeling the bitter cold stares of the heartless.



In the searing summer heat, we are protected;

Screened by the baking degrees of the sun that shade

Us from the hot glares of those cooking under the collar.



The heartless and hot under the collar have no idea

The insensitivity that stings like wasps of summer

Nor the callousness that burns like the frostbite of winter.



Until they open their hearts to the medicinal effects of

Warm smiles on numbness, handshakes on frostbite, and twinkled eyes on bitter souls,

We will remain throughout all seasons with dignity.


JLE 1990

For some homeless, life is stuffed in a bag and lived out on the streets.
For some homeless, life is stuffed in a bag and lived out on the streets. | Source

Treat the Homeless with Dignity

If you notice a positive change in your perception the next time you see a person on the street, think about what difference you could make to help the homeless.

No matter how small, directly or indirectly, every little bit helps. Whether it's donating clothing, blankets, food, money, time, or just saying "hello," see what you can do today.

You will be surprised by the response you get from needy persons when someone displays care and kindness to them. It makes them feel a little more human to be treated with dignity.

When I feed the homeless, it warms my heart when they say, 'thank you,' or offer a little change to pay for their meal.

Interact with the homeless by giving, and it will change your heart, too, not just during a specific time of year, but all year 'round.

© 2013 Janis Leslie Evans

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    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      So nice of you to stop by, social thoughts. Thank you for the generous comment.

    • social thoughts profile image

      social thoughts 2 years ago from New Jersey

      You write beautifully. I could cry. It is clear in your writing that you have dedicated a lot of time to helping these people. Keep up the good work! It is so very important!

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 3 years ago from Washington, DC

      So well-stated, MarleneB. You've expressed my point exactly through your own experience and compassion. Thank you for visiting and liking this poem hub. These poems came from my observations and regular interactions with needy people, some homeless, at the breakfast ministry I run every other Saturday. When you develop relationships, it changes your perception and grows your compassion. Peace to you as you continue doling out acts of kindness.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 3 years ago from Northern California, USA

      Beautiful! Filled with compassion. There was a time when I thought people chose to be homeless until one day when I, myself was left without a home to live in. Now, I see homelessness and the people who are homeless in a totally different way. Sure, some people choose to be homeless, but some find themselves in that situation due to circumstances beyond their control. When I meet someone who is homeless, I greet them with the dignity you speak of. We never know when that one act of kindness will be the one act to make a positive difference in someone's life.

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 3 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thank you, pstraubie, glad you liked it. It's always a blessing to see you. I'm grateful for your visit, votes, and sharing.

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      Patricia Scott 3 years ago from sunny Florida

      Giving a voice to those who often do not get to use this media source is so important. I have walked this walk and know how lonely it can be. Janshares Shared and voted ++++

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 3 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thank you!

    • Laurinzo Scott profile image

      Live To Write 3 years ago from Phoenix, Az.

      Absolutely beautiful!!!!

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Chef-de-jour, thank you for that lovely combination of commentary and critique. I appreciate your visit and substantive comments. I was so surprised when this one received an EC as it does not fit what I thought was worthy of the accolade in terms of basic criteria. I'm so happy you liked it.

    • chef-de-jour profile image

      Andrew Spacey 4 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

      Compassion is the bedrock of all good. It helps us build bridges towards those who for many reasons, struggle with their lives, be it through mental illness or lack of opportunity. Practical aid is usually best for the homeless, in the shape of a coin or two or a phone call or a bite to eat.

      Poetry can also help express compassion. It emerges as inner language - deep soul material - sparked by being in contact with, or at least being aware of those who find themselves homeless and often destitute.

      Free verse is a wonderful way to capture responses on the street and in life generally. Line and length and rhythm combine, free of restrictions!

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thanks, Jodah. I appreciate your taking the time to stop by.

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      John Hansen 4 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Very worthy and well written hub Jan. I had to read it after the lovely comment you left on one of mine. your poetry is very descriptive and gets the message across clearly. Well done. Voted up.

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Great comments, Bishop55. Thank you for sharing, glad you liked this hub.

    • Bishop55 profile image

      Rebecca 4 years ago from USA

      I love the photo you added to this hub. That mans eyes look like they have many stories. Homelessness is a hard topic for me, mainly because I' have worked very hard my entire life for what I have. When I see a person capable of working and not, I get mad about it. However, I know this is narrow minded because a lot of homeless people are mentally ill, so although they appear healthy, their brains often are not. When I worked in downtown Cleveland, I often gave them food and a few bucks when I had cash on me, I also donate household items as often as possible. This is a great hub to remind humans to be compassionate and love thy neighbor.

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thank you.

    • W1totalk profile image

      W1totalk 4 years ago

      Great writing.

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      That is a good thing. I think the particular politics, policies, and culture of a country contribute to homelessness. So we won't see it as bad everywhere. Thanks for your comments.

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      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      I would feel bad if I saw a homeless person and don't see them as different people but so in Croatia we don't have homeless people I haven't seen one around, or any kids begging on the streets.

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      You're so right, PHILLYDREAMER. Thank you for reading and sharing your experience and insight.

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      You're welcome, Abby. Thank you for reading and liking.

    • PHILLYDREAMER profile image

      Jose Velasquez 4 years ago from Lodi, New Jersey

      When I look at a homeless person, I see myself in them. I see what could happen to me if my life followed a different path. I used to play chess in the park a lot, and I had the experience of meeting a lot of these men. They weren't homeless for lack of intelligence, they each had a different story. The most common thread was a desire for a freedom that a normal life couldn't provide.

    • Abby Campbell profile image

      Abby Campbell 4 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      Thank you for a great share, Jan. Beautiful poems! Sharing awareness is so needed. :-)

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Aw, thanks, Sheri Faye. I'm happy to be a poetic voice for the homeless. I appreciate your comments and your visit.

    • Sheri Faye profile image

      Sheri Dusseault 4 years ago from Chemainus. BC, Canada

      Beautiful! There by the grace of God and all that. I always wonder "what is your story?" when I see these people. Thank you for your compassion...the world needs people like you.

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Your comments mean a lot, Gypsy Rose Lee. It is a worldwide issue, compassion is the key. Thank you so much for your visit, votes, and for sharing.

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Hi Kasman. The story you share warms my heart as well. Thank you for your kind comments, voting, and especially sharing this important hub. I appreciate it.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 4 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Voted up and awesome. The homeless should be treated with dignity. We never know what life might bring. When I can I am kind and understanding. We seem to have more and more homeless every day here in Riga, Latvia. This was truly compassionate. Passing this on.

    • Kasman profile image

      Kas 4 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      Janshares, this is such a heartfelt reminder of the love we are to share as Christ followers. It also reminds me of when I was in Brazil, when my team and I made over 120 sandwiches to pass out to the homeless late at night in Sao Paulo. It warmed our hearts to see the joy they had of the revelation that someone cared about them. Voting this up. Sharing!

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thanks for sharing your experiences with me, Marcy. It can be heartbreaking indeed. You are spot on about how life is lived in "chunks" for them. I'm so glad you shared these comments, grateful that you found this hub touching.

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

      This is so touching. You capture the emotions well, and the points about being aware of our own perceptions are so important. A church I used to attend was involved in the local lunch program for 'street people.' We have quite a few in our area, because the climate is moderate, and this is a fairly accepting city. During the times I worked in the lunch program, it was painful to see that those we were serving would not make eye contact. My heart broke for what they must have experienced. We treated everyone with consideration and love, and we had a clothing closet in the church that helped give them warm sweaters or coats, or just a clean outfit.

      Our church handled the program on Saturdays, and it was also heartwarming to see that all the other nearby churches participated. Each day, lunch was offered at a different location. At least we knew they had one nutritious meal each day. And then they had to get by to the next day. Life is lived in daily or even hourly chunks for this population.

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      So true, great comments. Those circumstances are a lot of the time related to mental illness, substance abuse, unemployment, and losing a home. Getting proper help is so hard when resources are scarce. Thank you for stopping by and may God continue to bless you.

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      graceinus 4 years ago from those of the Ekklesia

      Janshares- This is a wonderful Hub. There are many who say that most homeless are there by choise. But I don't believe that. I think there are many who are homeless by situations or circumstances beyound their cotrol. There are even situations where a whole family are out on the streets. It would take much effort if more people would join together and help these people. God created us to give and share with others. There is no reason for anyone to have lack. And I'm not talking about just in American, I'm talking world wide. God created this world to hold far more than 7 billion people. And I'm sure He did do that just to see some of them starve or sleep under a bridge.

      Great Hub and God bless Voted up and awesome

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      True dat, Breatheeasy3. It is about perspective, isn't it? I appreciate your thoughtful comment. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Breatheeasy3 profile image

      Breatheeasy3 4 years ago from USA

      Thank you for bringing light to this. My interactions, conversations and observations of the homeless over the years has truly led me to believe that, hey....it is perhaps those free spirits that have the most freedom.

      We often take our lives for granted, chase things that keep us enslaved to secular life, but the resolve of those without these worries are truly free to me. In mind and spirit, even though our face-value judgment states otherwise.

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Nice stories, Poetic. Sounds like a great hub :-) Thank you for reading this one. I appreciate it.

    • PoeticVine profile image

      Leanna Stead 4 years ago from North Carolina, United States

      This is lovely. I lived in Massachusetts for for a while -- I worked in Boston. I had a couple of friends among the homeless, one of whom I gave living space for a time until he could find a job and a place of his own. I asked him later whether it felt odd to him, and he said it did. I hope he's doing well.

      Every single person we meet is instrumental -- J. (I'd rather not use the whole name) helped me understand perspectives I'd never considered. Years later I met a music man on the street and wrotea poem for him -- he was homeless by choice, traveling with his closest friends and living under a bridge. He gave me an address to send mail, and I sent it, but I've not heard from him or J. at all. Even so, they are both inspirational to me.

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      I'm grateful you stopped by, C.S.Alexis. So glad you liked it and can relate by way of your own experience. Thank you for your comments.

    • C.S.Alexis profile image

      C.S.Alexis 4 years ago from NW Indiana

      I am Thankful that you wrote this Jan. I worked a couple weeks in a soup kitchen, poor side of Chicago...made me open my eyes for sure. I think it would serve up many a good lessons for people to volunteer a couple weeks in the soup kitchens of America.

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thank you for sharing your story and reading the article. I wish you the best.

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      Alice 4 years ago

      I was homeless. It can happen to ANYONE. I come from an upper middle class background in Germany. My grandfather was a director for a major German steel concern. He was the only one who loved me. Except my mother who was a physiotherapist all of my family members (including my grandmother) had a university degree. I was the bastard child. Despite having had a decent upbringing my mother was what she was, a woman who never evolved and never learned of her mistakes as well as extremely narcistic. She got pregnant by an African man, at the time medical student, part of the elite in his West African homecountry who first repetetdly tricked and raped her, then also psychologically took posession of her (he is a psychiatrist and neurologist with his own clinic in Germany by the way and none of his patients knows his true nature or personal life)

      My grandparents had tried to intervene but had failed.

      When my mother was pregnant, this African medical student who had conceived me tried to kill me while I was still in my mothers womb but my mother managed to escape and I survived.

      My mother then became severely schizophrenic when I was 6 years old. I was blamed for everything by everybody and although I was an overachiever in school I ended up homeless. Things are getting better but I just wanted to say that homeless people most of the time simply have a bad story they couldn't cope with.

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thanks, I appreciate it. It's everywhere I guess, some places more than others.

    • freecampingaussie profile image

      freecampingaussie 4 years ago from Southern Spain

      We have this problem in Australia as well . Voting you up.

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thank you, AnnaCia. Your comments are very much appreciated.

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thank you, ikepius. You are correct, especially with common folk losing their homes in record numbers over the last decade or so. Thank you for stopping by and reading this hub.

    • AnnaCia profile image

      AnnaCia 4 years ago

      janshares, What a wonderful hub!!!! How important is to have a home, and many take that for granted. I could be homeless so soon like a blink of my eyes, and don't even know it. Thank you for reminding your readers to give a hand. Voted up.

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Yes, I agree, Jackwms. I'm happy that this hub triggered much heartfelt comments.

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thank you

    • ikepius profile image

      @ikepius 4 years ago from Twittosphere: @ikepius

      I found this very timely. I feel like homelessness is on the rise. This is a good way of reminding us all. The homeless deserve some dignity!

    • Jackwms profile image

      Jackwms 4 years ago

      Again, this is a great hub, heartfelt and penetrating into one of the sad elements of our society. I also liked, very much, the comments from others (above), especially Curiad (who I follow). What a great idea about using foreclosed homes to provide housing, training, and work for the homeless.

    • blcurry profile image

      Brian 4 years ago

      I voted this up and interesting. Excellent Hub!

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thanks for sharing that, faythef, very disturbing. I hope they don't succeed. I'm glad you stopped by to read this hub.

    • faythef profile image

      Faythe F. 4 years ago from USA

      Thank You for this hub....My heart is heavy for the homeless..The city I live in and other cities are trying to close our local food kitchen..in the hope that the homeless will go away....nobody wants them in their own backyard.....Why don't they spend more time trying to help rather than pretend they don't exist...

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Oh my, what a beautiful comment. I appreciate that so much and thanks for sharing :-)

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thank you much, JThomp :-)

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

      You are a beautiful soul and I am sharing this hub. I was raised to never judge anyone, especially do to circumstances.

      My parents always reminded us kids "There but for the Grace of God, go I."

      Help when you can, provide a smile, treat all with respect until they give you goodreason not to.

    • profile image

      JThomp42 4 years ago

      Awesome hub my friend! Voted up and awesome and shared.

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      That's great to know that you have a youth group involved. Thank you, Matt. And thanks for the Twitter follow :-)

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Bless you for this. The San Francisco Food Bank has an excellent program that give one a very real glimpse of being homeless which my masonic youth participated in every year.

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thank you kindly, Jackwms. Your visit and comments are very much appreciated.

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      You're welcome. billybuc. I see that you understand from your own unique experience. I'm pleased that you approve. Thank you for reading this special hub.

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thank you, SoundNFury. Thank you for your votes, glad you came by.

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thank you Curiad. It's wonderful to hear what you are doing to make a difference. Thank you so much for stopping by and for your comments.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you for writing this Jan! I was homeless once; people just don't understand that hard times can happen to anyone at any time. I appreciate the way you handled this subject.

    • SoundNFury profile image

      Michael Valencia 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Great hub. Far too often, we let our fears and prejudices color the way we see the homeless and how we treat them. Voted up and beautiful!

    • Curiad profile image

      Mark G Weller 4 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

      This is wonderful Jan. I am working on a concept to create a program to utilize foreclosed homes to provide the homeless with shelter, training and work. It is a huge undertaking, but worth the effort I hope, Mark

    • Jackwms profile image

      Jackwms 4 years ago

      This is a wonderful hub. How can we not feel compassion for these fellow human beings, who but for a few blinks of time, could have been any one of us? Who wants to to be homeless, penniless, without hope, or family, friends, or a future of any kind? Alcohol and drugs are nothing more than a means of deadening the pain from within. Can't we please help in some way?