I’m no stranger to homelessness. During my career in nonprofits, I’ve worked alongside mothers and children escaping domestic violence, LGBTQ youths forced out of their homes and veterans with mental health challenges. They all faced the terrible realities of life without a home. And on a personal level, I lost a cousin who died alone on the streets in California.
As Director of Homelessness at Valley of the Sun United Way, I have the awesome opportunity transform lives in our community every day. I’m always prepared with bus passes and snack packs for those moments at stoplights. While stopped at a freeway intersection, I had a sudden realization that profoundly changed my perspective on giving. I encountered a man who looked like he had a particularly hard night. As I reached for my purse to give him a bus pass, the light turned. An overwhelming feeling of sadness filled my heart—not because I’d failed to help the man, but it dawned on me that his suffering pays my salary.
Making A Difference
The tear-soaked epiphany: my routine of sharing bus passes and snacks was about me feeling good, a simple transaction with another human being. It was a not the answer to ending homelessness. Think of all the drivers in Maricopa County who are waiting at stoplights every minute. What if each of us took a moment to offer eye contact and an earnest smile? What if we all chose to give our spare change to United Way?
Rather than supporting a fleeting, feel-good moment at a stoplight, we can take those coins to make permanent change in the lives of hundreds of people by providing housing. Why not choose an action that will make the most impact for everyone in our community? Learn how you can be the one to help us end homelessness in the Valley.