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Recently, an article by Carolyn Crist addressed a problem over the concern of homeless men in Gainesville. The article illustrated how the community needs to make an effort to help out this situation rather than wait for the government to take action. Crist proposed the idea of having a shelter supported by the collaboration of local churches.
I have been very involved in helping the homeless. During summer 2009, I went on a youth mission trip to the Bowery Mission, a homeless shelter in New York City, and I am a frequent volunteer at Good News at Noon. I am writing because I agree that Gainesville needs to help these homeless get back on their feet.
The other day, I was on the square with an old friend and a homeless man approached us asking for money. We declined to give him cash but offered to buy him food. He was more than happy to accept our offer.
We took him to a coffee shop to get him a sandwich. The coffee shop did not charge us for the sandwich, saying it was on the house, and offered the man some chips and a drink.
After he enjoyed a tasty bite he asked me where he could find the nearest shelter. I had trouble identifying another shelter besides Good News at Noon. I told him where Good News at Noon is located and what it is about, but it bothered me that there was not a much more accessible shelter nearby.
I agree that there should be another shelter built in collaboration by the local churches in Gainesville. Instead of upgrading the church with a new flashy sign in the front, why not start a fund toward a new shelter?
I pass at least four churches on my way to the square. If every church in Gainesville were to help raise funds, a new shelter could appear in no time.
As a high school student, I look for community service opportunities and I am only one of thousands of students in high school in Hall County. There would be plenty of high school students and other community members eager to help run the shelter.
Yes, it would involve hard work for the churches and community to open another shelter, but isn't all of life like that? The coffee shop showed me that there is the will in this town to accomplish this project; we just need a place to start.
Sam Taylor and Erin Brown