Saturday, March 7, 2009 midnightthe joy I felt putting the keys into my apartment door. I hadn't changed clothes or showered in seven days. I took off my shoes and my wet socks. My week of homelessness was over and I was extremely happy to be home.
I will never forget how nervous I felt the first night. When I came out of the subway at Union Square to begin my homeless venture, there were several inches of snow on the ground and the weather was bad. My plans were limited and I didn't have the luxury of a place to sleep. I ended up on a bench in the subway station for a few hours, which was extremely uncomfortable, so I decided to sleep in a 24-hour McDonalds but got kick out by an employee around 6am.
I spent most of my days outside the front entrance of the Union Square
train station handing out flyers that I had printed up and designed. The
flyer had details about my project and how I was trying to raise awareness
about homelessness. Some people took flyers, many people didn't. Some of
my most special moments were when people came up to me the next day after
receiving a flyer and told me that they went to the website, loved what
I was doing, and made a donation because they were inspired by my efforts.
My second night I didn't even sleep. I saw cops kicked this one guy out of Penn Station, so I knew sleeping inside the station wasn't an option. Eventually I grew a little more comfortable at nights, riding the subway trains in loops for hours, until I fell asleep. I eventually found out that I wasn't the only one who called the train cars a temporary home at night.
During the day I didn't eat much, but between 5 and 7pm every evening I met up with a different volunteer that my friend Fatima Ashraf had organized to bring me vegetarian meals costing under $5. "If you're going to be compassionate for the homeless then you need to do the same for animals" she said.
I learned many things during my homeless venture, but one thing that stands
out for me was how many of the homeless people that I spoke to blended in
with everyone else. A lot of people think you have to look dirty with torn
clothes to be homeless, but this is far from true, and I saw that first
hand from being out on the streets and in soup kitchens.
I went to a Salvation Army soup kitchen a few times to have lunch. I got really good information from a few of employees there, and I talked to other homeless people there, too. Most people were very inspired by what I was doing, but I didn't tell a lot of people about the project. One big disappointment was not being able to record as many homeless people as I wanted; most of them didn't mind talking to me but turned a blank face when I asked them if they would like to be recorded. The interviews that I did do were very moving. My homeless experience final video clip has been uploaded and is available for you to view.
Before I end, I want people to know that I'm very awear that being homeless for one week doesn't compare to being homeless for months or even years. This is just a sacrifice that I wanted to make to inspire people to make their own sacrifices to help people that are less fortunate.
— If you're interested in to sponsorg my project please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, thank you.