Humanizing the Homeless
Anne Aghedo (AS, ’20) spent last year’s spring break in Washington D.C. to help the homeless. Her group volunteered at various homeless shelters and kitchens (DC Central Kitchen, Seabury Resources for Aging, Christ House) and also participated in a reflection everyday to mull over what they had learned.
Before attending this trip, when she thought of helping the homeless, Anne always pictured giving them money or resources they need. But through this experience, she was able to learn that just having a simple conversation with a homeless person is service and can help them just as much. Homeless people are often treated as less than human and people always avoid them because of the thought of being hassled for money.
“In one of the activities,” Anne reflected, “a previous homeless man was able to share with us his experience being homeless and how he just wished anyone would talk to him. So through this I was able to learn that conversations and treating homeless people like how you would want to be treated is just as important as supplying them with resources or money.”
Through Alternative Spring Break, she also had the opportunity to learn that anyone can be homeless at anytime. Not all homeless people do drugs or are addicts. Anne realized that before going on this trip, she often made generalizations of what a homeless person looks like. This experience helped her realize that those generalizations are not always the case and led her to a greater consciousness of what she thinks and speaks.