"What do you mean?” they asked. So I explained that some of the homeless lose hope when a loved one passes away. Others return from wars and military conflicts with post-traumatic stress disorder. Still others suffer from a variety of mental illnesses including schizophrenia. Some of them are addicted to drugs. And yes, some of them, are simply what we might call “lazy” – although once a person can no longer see a way out, it’s easy to see why he or she loses hope.
As each day passes leading up to May 4th deadline for completely closing the Dallas homeless encampment known as Tent City, more and more homeless men and women will be extricated from a few streets under the I-45 underpass (Louise Avenue, Dawson Street and Hickory Street) and a section that juts under I-30 near Malcolm X Boulevard. Those currently living in the encampment, many of whom have nowhere else to go, are being moved into low-cost housing units and other facilities. However, at least historically, relocating the homeless is less of a solution than it is a shell game.
We all certainly understand the desire to rehome the city’s poorest of the poor. It’s a blight on the landscape of a beautiful city, and a reminder that we’re failing as a society to address the human element of this issue. And of course, homeless encampments are breeding grounds for disease, drug use, and violence. In fact, just this week, another man was stabbed in Tent City, which makes the third violent incident this year (two of which resulted in death).
At LarryCenters.com, we chose the Admiral Butterfly as our brand image because it symbolizes the power of positive transformation, and the concept of leadership (being an “Admiral”) through service (being “Admirable”). And I cannot think of anyone more in need of transformation than a homeless man or woman. That’s why I had an idea a couple of months ago that I hope raises awareness for the CAUSES of homelessness. Perhaps then we can start treating the patient instead of the symptoms.
I went to a local print shop and made 30 bags with the LarryCenters.com butterfly logo. Then, I filled each bag with a variety of necessities: t-shirts, underwear, washcloths, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, a first aid kit, snacks, etc. Later this week, I’m planning to take my “Breaking Bad”-style motorhome to a couple of different places in the DFW Metroplex where the homeless gather.
I’m asking them to allow me to interview them, and share their stories of what brought them to where they are today. Do they have any advice for young people about what they would do differently? Do they have any advice for the city about what we could REALLY do to help them? Then I’m letting them know that if they keep an eye out for me and bring back their bag, I’ll either refill it, or give them some money. In doing this, I hope to keep the bags off the street, and form a relationship with people who are willing to share their stories.
So stay tuned on this subject. We’ll be sending out tweets as interviews are posted. And as always, we welcome your feedback.