I do not own a car, so I cannot drive down busy streets to prevent seeing what the homeless have to endure in my community.
The three most popular places for homeless people to hang around in Baker City is the freight train depot, Geiser-Pollman Park, and the Baker County Public Library. After talking with some of the residents who visit our local library, I have learned that some homeless people have lived in Baker City for years, while others are passing through to different destinations. Let me give you a good example.
I met a young homeless person the other day that traveled 3,000 miles from Georgia to Baker City with no ID, no credit card, no ATM card, no motor vehicle and no luggage. He had only the clothes on his back and a skateboard clutched in his hands. He had mailed all of his belongings ahead of time to his mother who has breast cancer and lives in Bend, Oregon.
The young homeless person traveled from Georgia to Baker City through a combination of hitchhiking, begging for help from strangers, sleeping in the woods, hiking over small mountain passes and riding his skateboard. He also asked the Baker City Salvation Army for a bus ticket to Bend, which they bought for him.
Could you spend two weeks roughing it across America with no ID, no credit card, no motor vehicle, no luggage, and no ATM card to visit a parent who is suffering from breast cancer? I could not imagine enduring such a sad situation, but I saw it in the eyes of the young homeless person who told me his story.
Some of the homeless who choose to live or go through Baker City are friendly and respectful. They do not want to cause problems or end up in jail. However, they are often lonely for human companionship and are always in need of food, water, shelter, clean clothes, money and a hot shower.
Unfortunately, Baker City does not have homeless shelters, or the necessary facilities to help the homeless on a long-term basis. However, most of the residents who live in my community are very friendly and do what they can to help the needy. That is one good thing about living in Baker City.
The homeless issues America faces today are challenging and complex. Fortunately, there are plenty of people and governmental agencies that can help the homeless. I think America reaches out because it truly cares as a nation, no matter how much red tape or regulations limit its options at times. Most of our caring citizens are strong, intelligent and resourceful and can push through enormous barriers to give hope under challenging circumstances.
I believe America will always do its best to help improve the quality of human life, no matter who cries out for help. But if for some reason our country can not help someone who is homeless, then we'll at least try to give that person a glimmer of hope, or a reason to go on living, and we can take some small comfort in that.