Homeless, downtrodden don’t have needs only at Christmas
We are now officially past the 12 days of Christmas — the season of goodwill and good cheer — but, even at the risk of sounding cliché or trite, the conversation must be had about meeting the needs of the underserved in our society.
Many of us fall victim to the habit of being seasonal givers to the poor and dispossessed and, truly, there is nothing wrong with that. But, as well-meaning people, religious or not, we are witnesses to the ever-present, ever-growing need that pervades our nation.
With this knowledge, it behoves us to do whatever we can, as often as we can, to reach into our tool kits and pockets so that we can reach out to those less fortunate.
To borrow from an oft-repeated expression: “Let the spirit of Christmas last the whole year.”
True, our resources are limited, and our reach is not boundless, but if each community takes responsibility for the needs in their space, help will get to those most deserving.
We continue to laud the seasonal programmes, particularly we mention Food For the Poor, which pays fines for non-violent individuals who have been incarcerated; NCB Grant a Wish that changes the trajectory of so many; or even the Child Protection and Family Services Agency’s Take a Child Home for the Holiday initiative that has caused so many of our youngsters to experience the warmth of family, if even for a short time.
We can’t forget the many individuals and churches that offer hot meals and goodies to those who experience homelessness and live on the streets.
We recall young Ms Tianna Fisher, the subject of a Jamaica Observer story in December, who gathered her family and friends to feed the downfallen in downtown Kingston. We hail her efforts and those of like-minded individuals.
No doubt, we know this need is not seasonal, and until their circumstances change they will require more access to nourishment. This is reason for the call to extend the spirit of giving.
These programmes will forever have a place in the fabric of society, the encouragement at this time is to let the love last longer.
As such, no greater rationale is needed for the establishment of sustainable programmes, whether through individuals, government agencies, or civil society. We should feel the yearning to do more to meet the need that exists around us. We all have this responsibility.
There is no intent to foster dependency or facilitate mendicancy, for the giving of which we speak is the kind that uplifts the fallen, changes circumstances, and empowers victims.
Still, in all that we will do in extending the season of giving, we must never take away dignity from the poor. And so, personal responsibility to self must be always before us. Each individual must engender the pride of personhood to want to improve his/her sphere and eventually take responsibility for themselves. That is the only way to truly empower the crushed and stave off the loss of one’s own decency and self-respect.
So, let the spirit of goodwill carry into the new year. Let it give us the impetus to do more. And, let us vow to do what we can, as often as we can, to help our fellow man. Our humanity demands it.