Personal Narrative: Living With Homelessness

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When I boarded the yellow school bus, carrying only a sleeping bag and a duffle, I had no idea of the impact the short trip would have on me. I never expected I would gain a better understanding of people who live with homelessness, or that they would inspire me with their determination and fortitude to approach challenges in my own life differently.
Before my trip to Seattle I focused on myself a lot. I constantly compared myself to others, and I believed I was entitled to more than I had. When I joined my fellow junior highers from church bound for Seattle for a week of service to homeless people, I was also fearful. I had never stepped very far out of my comfort zone and did not know what to expect. Until that trip, I naively believed the term, “homeless,” referred to old men in dirty overalls hopping trains. Over the course of the week, however, I learned people are not defined by their appearances or living situations.
One day our group packed lunches to take to a park in the heart of the city where many homeless people camped. On the bus ride over, some of the girls were talking about how nervous they were. As I listened to their conversation, I grew nervous as well. When we arrived at the park, I noticed some of the people had only blankets, and others slept in tents. Some were in groups, some were alone, and some had their own dogs to keep
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My previous misconceptions of homeless people were replaced by a better understanding of a few individuals who struggled to overcome homelessness. Empathy, and in some cases respect, overcame my fears. I found myself wanting to love these people rather than protect myself from them. I was challenged to rethink my tendency toward materialism and stop comparing myself to my peers. Finally, whenever I think of the woman I met during dinner at the shelter, I am inspired to overcome all obstacles on the path to my

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