Home and Homelessness

Post Written By Toscha Wilkins

The word “home” has just as many meanings and is just as diverse as the people who live on this planet. For most of us home is where we feel safe, loved, nurtured and where we have a sense of belonging.

 “Home isn’t a place, it’s a feeling” – Cecelia Aher, Love, Rosie

Home is the place where we share our proudest moments, our deepest dreams and our greatest fears with those whom we love the most. When I think of home I think of my childhood and the fun times I had with my brothers, cousins and many friends who would come and sleep over. I also think of our two dogs and the crazy things they would do, like eating a hot steak from a plate that was placed too close to the edge of a counter. I think of the neighbors who would comment about the smell of barbecue coming from the backyard when my father would barbecue on the Fourth of July.

The basement in our home comes to mind as the shelter where we went to escape from Kansas’ tumultuous tornados that wrecked havoc on the plains May through September. Our backyard held many “semi-pro” neighborhood football games put on by my brothers and their friends. My mother’s tiny flower garden, that was overlooked until she had a free Saturday, gave the front of our house its curb appeal. But more importantly, home was the place that I could call my own.

 “Home is a reflecting surface, a place to measure our growth and enrich us after being infused with the outside world.” – Josh Gates, Destination Truth: Memoirs of a Monster Hunter

Unfortunately for too many of us who are homeless, home is a dream; a dream that seems farther away from reality with each passing day that they are in shelter or living on the street.

The Indianapolis Hospitality Network website has a fact sheet (Faces of Homelessness 2011) that states “on any given night in Indianapolis there are over 1,500 individuals experiencing homelessness.”   These are both adults and children who have no where that they can call home.

When I think of all the memories that came from “home” when I was growing up, I wonder what memories the children who are growing up in shelter will have. I also wonder what memories the adults who are living on the street remember. They don’t have their own backyards or basements where they can hide from tornados. They also can’t have sleep overs with their friends and family members. These things might seem trivial until we remember that our lives and who we are were shaped by these memories of “home.”

“I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself” – Maya Angelou

We all should make it a priority to not let another year go by without doing what we can to make sure everyone has a place to call “home.”

As one of the largest and most comprehensive programs for the homeless in the state, HealthNet’s Homeless Initiative Program (HIP) provides a network of services to treat the whole person, as he or she moves from homelessness into self-sufficiency. Learn how you can help.


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