Volunteering at a Homeless Shelter

On the face of it there is a disconnect between writing a beauty blog and talking about not spending and donating time and money to the homeless shelter. However there is not as much distance as you might think initially.

A lot of the discrimination and isolation that the homeless face is around how they look. How many times have you heard some one complain about getting stuck next to a smelly homeless person on the bus? Now imagine how that odour comes about. How easy is it to shower and wash without a house, to control body if you can’t afford housing let alone toiletries, how you would smell if you slept in shop fronts, where drunks would urinate on their way home from bars? How easy is to transport toiletries if you need to carry all your possessions with you? How do you condition your hair and afford haircuts and shaving implements? How can you wash and maintain your clothing?

Then imagine that you want to connect with people but they avoid you before you can talk to them. You feel less than everyone, less than human. You are alone and vulnerable. Maybe you start to numb the pain with alcohol or other drugs.

How do you reconnect with people? How do you get a job? How do you make a first impression other than homeless? The rituals around beauty are culture-based of course, there were times when washing was not considered hygienic. But in this time and place pulling yourself out of homelessness often requires an ability to fake not being homeless to passersby. And I have to thank my stars that I have the abilility, the resources and the social capital to be able to pass that first impression test and to read as deserving of basic courtesies and respect. Not everyone can.

 

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