It all started when I was young and my parents told me that my grandfather had been without a home for a couple of years. He was one of the most important and influential people in my life and I had a great love for him. A troubling thought entered my mind: If he would've never been able to get off the streets there was a big chance I could have never met him.
Since then, every time I saw someone on the street asking for money a pain would burn in my chest. Filled with the spirit of a young soul, I would quickly ask my parents for a few dollars and sprint toward whoever was sitting on a curb. With the innocent love of child and a smile large enough to warm both our hearts, my handful of dollars would be transferred. In exchange, I would receive a kindhearted “God Bless You”. However, I noticed that it was not the money that made them happy, it was the fact that someone offered a smile. The pain in my chest would stop burning.
As I grew older, my desire to provide hope to the homeless became stronger. The moment I realized that this was my calling came as a sophomore in high school. I attended a medical conference and one of the guest speakers was a man named Andre who was homeless for years and had recently been able to get back on his feet. Now, he traveled the country and spoke about his experiences being without a home. Water began to fill my eyes as Andre explained the harshness of being homeless. “Do you think the worst part of being homeless was not having food or a warm place to sleep? Not at all. Those things are absolutely awful, but they don’t even compare to the worst part. The worst part was that no one even cared to look my way. People would walk right past me as I would wish them a good morning and pretend not to hear me. I felt like I wasn’t a human, like I was no longer a part of society. When you feel like you don’t exist, it’s hard not to go insane.” He continued on to say that his deepest fear while being homeless was to come in contact with teenagers - the homeless have always been targets of brutal beatings by young men. I just couldn’t imagine how our society had turned humans into animals and from that day on I vowed to eventually help start a movement to bring the unhoused back into humanity.
Now a student at Florida State University, I find myself with the drive and resources to fulfill that vow from many years ago.