Getting Down and Dirty for the Homeless

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homeless man lying on city streetYou’d probably agree that it’s easy to point out a homeless person in the city. But what does rural homelessness look like?

Family Connection of Gordon County coordinator Roberta Charbonneau says, in a recent Chattanooga Times Free Press story, that you won’t see the homeless pushing a buggy packed with all their worldly possessions on a sidewalk in downtown Calhoun. It’s hidden.

She said homeless people often live with family members, in campers or tents, or sometimes pack into rental property with several other families, and that last year 10 percent of schoolchildren in the county school system were classified as homeless.

Charbonneau, along with more than 30 other Gordon residents, are getting down and dirty to remind people of the hardships homeless people face in Northwest Georgia. They all vowed to wear the same shirts for a month without washing them until they each raise $232 to put a homeless family in a motel for a week.

I recently read somewhere that people who don’t have shelter are houseless—not homeless. Habitat, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, defines homeless as an inadequate experience of connectedness with family and community.

We often define the work we do as indirect service. But if homelessness is about a lack of connectedness, then Charbonneau and Family Connection of Gordon County have turned that definition on its head. They are creating an atmosphere of belonging. The homeless now belong to the families and community.

Learn more about the Family Connection of Gordon County.

Read the story in the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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