Self-reflection: Ignoring those in need


Hi Ostomates,

About two weeks ago, I was at a local deli and there was a gentleman ahead of me in line. The young lady who works the deli asked the gentleman what he needed.

He ordered only three slices of meat. After hearing his request, I wanted to say, "Sir, I can pay for a little more meat if you'll accept it." Yet, I froze!

You see, he wasn't dressed too well, he actually had on two pairs of pants. Nor did his clothing look too clean. I felt so bad.

I had to examine myself. I can't imagine anyone who wants to be homeless. Many of these people had good jobs but lost them. Many are veterans who put their lives on the line.

And yet, no one seems to care or provide them with much-needed assistance. Two weeks passed and I found myself still thinking of the gentleman. He made me examine myself.

I don't consider myself better than anyone else. And I know that bad things happen to good people as well as bad ones. It's funny how things turn out in our lives or life events can change us.

We can give money to families who have jobs. I'm just saying, why is it so hard for us to help those in need?

Many don't have a roof over their head, warmth, food, clothes, spouses, or family members. The poor souls live in the elements: cold, hungry, sleeping on benches. Yes, I failed that test.

I now realize not everyone begs when they're in need. Sometimes their need presents itself directly. But many of us ignore it as just another unfortunate person that life left behind.

If tested again, I'll be better. Anyway, this is my self-evaluation and I didn't like the results. There's an old saying, "If you haven't walked in their shoes, you don't know."

Best Wishes,



Hello Angelicamarie. Thank you for this post and your thoughts on quite an interesting subject. There will be many differing opinions on the subject of homelessness and poverty, but I often wonder how many of the people with their opinions take the time and trouble to self-evaluate, as you have done.

When I was professionally involved with the sort of people you describe, the sort of considerations you have had about this man and others, would often spring to mind.  Also, at this time of the year, during the run-up to Christmas, I would get much more support for the work I was doing  than I got at other times of the year. What a pity that people do not seem to percieve the need outside of their own little worlds of relative privilege. 

I also wonder what it might be like if the world does have a climate change along with the range of predicted disasters and famine. Will people remember how they felt about the people on the streets, when they too become homeless and destitute? 

Just a thought!

Best wishes



Hi Angelicamarie, interesting to come to this after watching a staggering video on YouTube. It was shocking to see how 'easy' it is to become inadvertently homeless in the US, how precarious life can be for so many people, even those working hard in basic level jobs.

Never having owned a home until retirement, I've always been aware that we could 'slide' easily if anything happened to me or my job. Having cancer and months off work back in 2004 deeply disturbed my father, so when we inherited enough money to buy a house (albeit in another country!) we were soooo thankful and were absolutely confident that we were doing exactly what he would have wanted done with his money. We are 'safe', but we try, through support of local charities, to reach out to those not in such a good position.

Thankfully, here in France, there are many safety nets to protect homeless families. Just to take one example, it is now simply illegal to evict ANYBODY between November and the end of March, while social housing (in most places) is plentiful and affordable. Often the homeless are in need of all sorts of other help, but having somewhere safe to live is surely a basic human right and the beginning of the road back to the normality we all take for granted?

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Hi Angelicamarie, there are a lot of people out there that need a helping hand and I am all for helping. We just have to be careful of who and how we help them. Some are homeless through no fault of their own. There are also some who put drugs, drinking, and not wanting to do low-paying jobs that may be available.


Chris P... Unfortunately, the statistics for Americans that are 2 to 3 paychecks away from being homeless is staggering! We have some safety nets but not as many as you do. Perhaps we will increase those numbers of safety nets in the future!


How to Manage Emotions with LeeAnne Hayden | Hollister

My oldest child was doing a scouting project working to help feed some of the homeless, preparing sack lunches and drinks, and setting up in one of the local parks. Leftover lunches were donated to a local homeless shelter. The most eye-opening moments (for both of us!) came as we spoke with the people themselves as they came through the lines. The range!! We spoke with people who were living in their cars because they lost their apartments and couldn't afford the deposit on a new one. We spoke with some who had been homeless for months and were staying in a shelter at night, but couldn't get a job for during the day, picking up odd jobs here and there. We met whole families, including children, who moved from shelter to shelter as space was available. And yes, we ran across some who definitely had some mental/emotional problems and could never be expected to be other than they were, on the streets. But by far, the majority of folks we ran into were in that "2 paychecks away from poverty" situation who lost their jobs and so lost everything, including their dignity and self-worth.

I have been where you were, Angelica, and we have both had our eyes opened. Don't beat yourself up over it, just be prepared in the future. The opportunity WILL come again - there's just too many of the homeless not to run across them periodically. And if you have any affiliation with a scout or a local scout group, suggest a project similar to the one my oldest did. Someone is bound to pick up the banner and go forward.


Your intentions were sincere and anybody would have hesitated at that point. There is much more deprivation and poverty where I am, and insensitivity to it. The best we can do individually is to fully commit to alleviating the suffering to some extent. I have been absent for a while, just as you think you have things under control, lightning strikes. I had to go to Singapore for treatment accompanied by my cousin, to whom I am indebted in many ways. The medical care there is excellent. The best care for my ailment is in the US, and I sometimes wonder how much better I would have been if I had stayed there, but I was homesick and had pretensions of playing Test cricket. I did get to play First-Class cricket but did not make it to the Test level. Cricket is an addiction, Bill would understand its attraction. John Major, an avid fan, once said that he would rather open the innings for England than be the prime minister. Anyway, I am an Easterner and believe in fate and destiny and what's meant to be. In any case, I am glad to report that they did a good job over there, and hopefully that uninvited visitor will not make a reappearance. All the best wishes, Angelicamarie.


Hello Angelicamarie.

I very much appreciate your posts and the concepts that provide for me an impetus for rhyming verse. In this case I had a flurry of three poems about homelesspeople whom I helped in the past. There were many more, so I expect I shall be on a run  of rhyming verse on this subject for some time. One of my  motivations for writing these rhymes, is the fact that these people are all now deadand it seems a shame that they will not (otherwise) have any place in any historical record. I went to their funerals and was alone apart from the undertakers and the clergyman. I feel as if these are folks whom society would like to forget when they're alive and they certainly forget them when they're dead. So below are three poems about specific individuals who eventually made it off the streets for a short while before they departed this world. 

My work with them when they were alive was important tnad rewarding,  hope you like the tributes to them as I feel sure that they would appreciate the concept that people still think about them and their lives - which were just as imortant as anyone else's!

Best wishes



An abode is a residence
so, it is no coincidence
that most will view it as their ‘home’
rather than a place to roam.

But spare a thought for all those that
don’t have that warm, safe habitat,
and have to live in the outdoors
without a roof and walls and floors.

There are so many that I meet
make their abodes upon the street
for so many varied reasons
across all four of our seasons.

It’s not so bad when weather’s warm
but it is hell when there’s a storm,
and in the bleak midwinter’s freeze
one cannot live outside with ease.

One man I met, had made his bed
in a small allotment shed.
In this abode he felt secure
despite the fact of no tenure.

This shed had been his home for years
until one day his deep down fears
were realised, when one dark day
they told him that he could not stay.

Fortunately, he came to me
and I secured for him a key
to his own accommodation
on my own recommendation.

Which goes to show, they can succeed,
but maybe what these people need
is someone who is in the know
to help them to a bright tomorrow.

B. Withers 2019


In the first verse that I wrote
I tried to make the briefest note
about the homeless folk I’ve met
and the abodes that they may get.

In this, the second verse I write,
I will now focus on the plight
of others in this situation
regarding their accommodation.

There was one man whose parents died
so, walked and walked, ‘till he espied
a pill-box at the side of the road
and this became his own abode.

For years he used this dank, dark place
as his retreat and sleeping space
until one day he came to me
because he had been so hungry.

Of course, I fed and clothed the man
and he came to the group I ran
for many other folks like him
whose circumstances were quite grim.

From that point on, no need to beg
we sorted out his gammy leg,
making sure he now had food,
and overcame his solitude.

This poor soul was not that bright
so, it would never have been right
to be abandoned on his own
without some social chaperone.

It was at our instigation
that he found accommodation
and received the help required
which is what this man desired.

B. Withers 2019


This is the third rhyme that I write
about the homeless and their plight
for I feel they deserve to be
preserved in written history.

This third man, who I write about,
was neither lazy, nor a lout,
and though he was illiterate
he was always considerate.

All his past life, he’d paid no rent
as he lived in a bender-tent
right out in the countryside
where, from most people he could hide.

He was not an unfriendly chap
but had a social handicap,
because house-dwellers in their psych
would seem to have a deep dislike.

They do not trust the gypsy folk
and so, would ostracise this bloke
from their own community
at every opportunity.

But, every time I visited
I found he had reposited (put away)
food and drink for me to share
though his food store was often bare.

Here was a man with a big heart
who had had a deprived start
yet he was generous to a tee,
well, at least he was to me.

In the great storm of eighty-seven,
he almost ended up in heaven,
as an oak tree fell on his tent
and frightened him to some extent.

Then he decided it prudent
to have a flat instead of tent.

B. Withers 2019


Hello my fellow ostomates,

Thanks for sharing and responding!



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