Friday’s Weekend Column
About a Minnesota Man Exploring Life in the South

Feeling Blessed In Tallahassee
by James Glaser
January 2, 2009

Wanda and I were invited to some friends' home for dinner last night, and on the way over we saw a homeless man walking down the street carrying everything he owned on his back. It might be because it is winter that we have a real influx of people living on the streets of Tallahassee.

When I lived in Northern Minnesota, we read about America's homeless population, but we never saw it. If you were homeless up there, you had two choices. Commit a crime and be put in jail or freeze to death.

Down here in the South, the homeless population grows every fall with those who can make their way down here so they can get out of the bitter cold of our Northern States. The South has its own homeless population year round, and the influx from the North really makes that population visible.

When you see these people in the numbers we see down here, you know that helping them is a bigger problem than the local community can handle. Now with the down-turn in the economy, services to the poor are going to see cuts in their budgets.

The United States of America is still the richest nation on the globe, and still we have hundreds of thousands, if not millions of our fellow citizens living like they are in a third world country. Those of us who have a roof over our heads and know what tomorrow will bring are really blessed. Because of that blessing, we should feel the need to help those who have so much less than we do.

Right now in Tallahassee, and I would bet every other large Southern city, the homeless problem is right out there for us to see. If the economy continues to tank, this problem will become visible every where.

Here in America we don't start repairing bridges until a few of them collapse. We didn't start cleaning up our rivers and lakes until a few of them caught on fire. And we won't start helping our homeless population until we can't avoid them.

So right now, Wanda and I know how blessed we are to live the way we do, and we also know that but for the grace of God we could be on the streets, too.

This year we get a new president, who says he is going to do things differently. Just maybe working on the homeless problem now will help the people on the streets today, before that population explodes to the point that even government help can't stem the tide.

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