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The eyes of homelessness: pain and hope


Homelessness is hard to look at. But we must do it to understand.

Often, when we see a homeless person, it’s easy to not think about what happened for them to end up there. It’s also easy to walk past them, to disregard the man lying on the street or the woman standing at an intersection with a plea for help on a handwritten sign.

It’s harder to look away once you have looked into their eyes. Our eyes don’t lie. They are windows to the soul. Our eyes show the truth, and they say more about us than could ever be said with words. …

A glimpse of homelessness’ hurt

On this day at our shelter, Mike Hill is teaching a class for JobsPlus, our job readiness and placement program.

Founded on Biblical principles, the classes not only prepare participants for employment and help them find jobs, but they also address the issues that have contributed to their homelessness.

As the guests enter the room, their eyes hint at lost promise or apprehension. Some are haunting, some are placid, and others are filled with hurt and despair.

Class begins, and today’s theme is about hope. Mike draws from his hard upbringing, life experiences, and understanding of the struggles that the guests face. His experience makes him relatable, and the guests are interactive and engaged.

A glimmer of hope

Although the guests are different races and ages, a theme emerges: Homelessness is often the result of one bad decision, many bad decisions, or simply bad luck, and it can happen to anyone.

Our guests express what we all want in life – food, a stable home, family, and a job to help make it all possible. Unfortunately for some, they have been broken down so many times that they no longer have the confidence nor the knowledge to even begin the job search process. JobsPlus fills the gap.

The class ends with a prayer and one last important message from Mike. He says, “Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater and stronger than any obstacle.”

As the guests leave the room, I again look at their eyes. An hour ago, they showed sadness and despair. Now, there is a small glimmer of hope. When I ask Arthur, one of the guests, how he felt about the class, he says, “It’s nice to know someone understands that I am homeless, not helpless.”

It is very hard to look into someone’s eyes and see their brokenness and pain. God looks into our eyes with grace, compassion, and hope. He wants us to see all people the same way – for who they are and who they can become if someone believes in them like He does.

Julie O’Meara is a JobsPlus graduate and freelance writer. She is available for writing opportunities. You can contact her at and 513-205-0918.

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