Martin: Let’s ‘come together as team’ to combat homelessness


With high inflation, many people are not able to keep pace with their monthly rental payments and other bills because of their low-wage incomes or their low “fixed” incomes. We are seeing hundreds more people in the Georgetown area who have fallen out of our economic system. They are now unbanked, uninsured, unemployed, homeless, carless, hungry and isolated. And, once they fall out, they have a new crisis every three minutes that seems to push them further down, to where wealth has no beginning, and poverty has no end. In the middle of the night, they can’t help but fall asleep wherever they happen to be. They lay exhausted behind a bush somewhere in Georgetown.

It can’t get any worse, but it does. Their backpack is stolen that had “all their important documents.” And I can’t even write into words what happens to our homeless ladies out here. And then, the next morning, some people who still have their homes, their wealth and their comforts, point fingers at the poor and the homeless population on their streets, and they say, “Get a job” or “Go to another town” or “Why are you here?” And they also point fingers at the “helpers” who are offering food and clothing, and they say things like, “Don’t enable them by giving them handouts.”

And what is your solution? It can’t be to just let them starve and despair on the streets, feeling isolated and depressed with no cover from the weather. But if they “get a job” or if they “go to another town,” then will you help them? We should all see homeless individuals as people who desperately need food, water, clean clothes, sleep and running water to clean up for their survival. It is not “optional” to be hungry, wet, cold, alone or isolated. This all happens automatically when you are unsheltered. And, once you “fall out,” you hear, “We have no openings” because we only have about 30 homeless shelter beds in all of Sussex County.

And then, for the moms with children, you learn that there are only two to four beds available (in the whole county) for families. And then, as you desperately make call after call for help, you are then told that you have a two- to four-year “wait time” for the affordable housing units in Delaware. We have lots of holes in our “social safety net,” and hundreds more will fall out into the streets in the coming year.

Jesus is asking us to band together and to create new safety nets in his name. If you are one of the “complainers,” please come to The Shepherd’s Office and sign up as a volunteer. Once you get to know homeless individuals as your neighbors with names, you will want to help. When you look into their eyes during our morning prayer services, you will see their pain and anguish. Because you are a human, you can’t help to have empathy and compassion for them. I think all of us, no matter how much wealth we have, will all face unexpected hardships, setbacks and a scary crisis or two or three in our lives, so we can all help each other because we know what sorrow and brokenness feel like.

Our team and I have seen over the years of helping others that the whole community benefits when we come together as a team and help each other. Jesus asks us to bear with one another and to bear each other’s burdens. Let us “let go” of the offenses we feel against each other and let’s forgive each other. Let’s draw circles in Georgetown that include everyone and let’s look out for the people who are hurting. And, God, please help us. Amen.

Jim Martin

The Shepherd’s Office


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