The Children's Pages

Introduction

The essays and poems included on these pages are the second installment of the Grapevine's Children's Pages. The students who submitted essays are members of the Beachwood Middle School Homeless Advocacy Council, directed by Mrs. Lopez, and have been studying a unit on homelessness. The unit included a field trip to The City Mission, the movie With Honors, and a lecture from Americorps*VISTA volunteer Tom Hayes along with formerly homeless and current Grapevine vendor Angelo Anderson. There are also poems included from Michael and David, who are students at Ridgebury Elementary School. Their poems were written after a presentation was given by Project Act Americorps*VISTA Jenny Lindquist at their school.

The essays by the Beachwood students reveal the strong stereotypes that the students had developed about the homeless. They honestly portray the stereotypes that we all learn and are reinforced through the media and ignorance that surrounds us. The students also relate their expanded knowledge, understanding, and a refusal to accept the ever-increasing problem of homelessness in this country. With their development of the Homeless Advocacy Council, the Beachwood students have shown a strong interest in addressing the issues of homelessness in Northeast Ohio.


Do You Care?

by Heather Holmes

When we dream wonderful dreams, do we act upon them? When we sit down and discuss about the past and think about the future, do we ever learn from our mistakes and think about changing them? When I sit and think to myself, what happens to the homeless after the holiday season? I feel bad and think of what I can do. What can I do?

Does anybody care? Is anybody there?

What happens if you are standing waiting for a bus, and then witness a homeless person dying. Do you touch him? Do you try to give him medical attention, or do you leave him there to die in the cold winter night.

Does anybody care? Is anybody there?

When you see a homeless child on the streets in the winter with no gloves or hat what do you do? You are sure he or she will be sleeping on a bench with no protection and soon will catch pneumonia. What do you do?

Does anybody care? Is anybody there?

Now when a beggar comes up to you and pressures you to give him money. Do you give him the money so he can spend it on drugs? Or do you save it for somebody who you know really needs it because of the lack of food?

Does anybody care? Is anybody there?


 

America, Home of the Homeless

by Jason Miller

Every one loves sleeping on their own bed and in their own room. Imagine your bed, a cardboard box with a thin sheet you picked off the street and your room is a dark alley. For many Americans this scenario holds true as they are a part of the two million homeless people in the United States today.

New York, Washington D.C. and Los Angeles have the most homeless people in America. They sleep in skid rows and old abandoned buildings. When it gets cold outside most homeless die because they breath in too much Carbon Monoxide. They don’t have enough money to go to the hospital. During the day you can not really pick out the homeless people because they look just like us. All day the homeless people work hard to try to find jobs, food, and clothing to survive. Some people make money by selling The Homeless Grapevine newspaper.

In my opinion homelessness is the biggest problem in the world today. I think no one deserves to be homeless. People who are homeless try to work really hard so they can build up a little at a time to get themselves through their great depression. Even though some homeless people are very educated, they just want to lie around and be a bum. For example, Simon from the movie With Honors was very educated but just did not want to get another job. If people don’t care anymore and they don’t watch out the homeless population will increase a great deal.

In conclusion, I think every one should get together to find a solution to this problem, so that one day millions of people can once again say "There’s no place like home."


A Struggle to Survive

by Jeremy Babin

Homelessness is a condition of people who lack regular legal access to adequate housing. Homelessness has been recognized as a significant social problem in the United States since the early 1980s, when a rapid increase in the number of homeless people was caused by a weak economy and cuts in federal aid for housing and income assistance. Other periods of increased homelessness also have occurred many times in history, including during the colonial era. Most other industrialized societies have also experienced increases in homeless populations in recent decades.

In a great deal of cases, homeless people are looked at as bad people. It is very unlikely that anyone ever thinks about their feelings and what they can do to help them. They are people who have no permanent address. They often live in abandoned buildings, areas under bridges, bus stations, cheap hotels, emergency shelters, subways, and the streets, just to name a few.

Some sociologists use the word homeless to describe anyone who leads an isolated life, without the usual social ties to family, work, and community life. The United States reports that there are over 100 million homeless people worldwide. In the United States homelessness has become a very serious problem.

Homeless people are just like regular people. Most people don’t realize that. I feel so bad for homeless people. I wish that there was something I could do to help. I also wish that people could think about

other people more. They have no place to call their home at all. They have no privacy and most importantly, "They don’t feel like they belong anywhere."


 

My Point of View

by Rachael Gralnick

A homeless person in my mind is a hunched back old bag lady/man. They like to drink a lot, and take drugs like crack and heroin. Most don’t care about anything, they live in alleys and old boxes. When they are hungry they eat out of garbage. Well that is what I thought before this unit. I have educated myself to know that that is not all true. My view on this topic has changed greatly since the beginning.

There are many different ways that someone can become homeless. One way is that a mother and her child are being beaten at home and they have no place to go, so that puts them out on the streets. The statistics of domestic violence victims is 21%. Another way is if one of the parents lost a job and can’t find another one. So that leaves them with paying bills with not enough money to buy food and clothes. The statistics of families on the streets is 40%. There are other people who just can’t support themselves. Then there are teens who do drugs, run away from home, and become homeless. Kids make up 26% of the homeless population.

There are also kids out there who don’t want to be on the streets. Here is a little part of a poem that a homeless girl named Maria wrote. "Your pity is not needed, but your understanding, yes. Being homeless is the saddest thing." I think that that is a very strong statement from a teen. Yes it is true that we should understand the homeless because if we did they would be treated differently. These teens are just like me and you. They do have dreams and hopes. I read in class a packet with kids hopes and dreams. Some of them are: I want to be a cop when I am older, have a house with 19 bathrooms, make money. Their dreams are just like ours and no one should ruin them.

A homeless person is someone who drinks, takes drugs, lives in alleys, hunched over bag lady/man. That is not what they are. They are humans just like you and me. I hope that you have learned from what I have written to you today.

Homelessness Poem

Homelessness is a very bad thing.
Homeless people have to walk in the streets
They have to get a home.
It's a pretty bad experience
Because the rich do not want the homeless around.
And it's dreadful.
We need your support to save them.

By Michael Soltesz
Grade 4

Homeless

Homeless people are very unlucky not to have a home.
They might get very sick which makes me very sad.
They should get treated like us because they're humans also.

by David Soltesz
Grade 4

Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine published March – April 1996 – Issue 14