I had no idea what to expect the first day I got to volunteer at Hosea. I was, however, extremely nervous because I am a pretty introverted person and I had zero clue of how I was going to be able to relate with anyone in the drop-in center. What I thought I knew was that I was going to be helping people in need, but that I myself wasn’t in need. I came to Hosea that day with the inclination that my life was going just fine and because of that, I was able to give my time and resources to others. I came thinking that I was blessed more than others, simply because I had more things or came from a better living condition. I came that day with a completely wrong attitude and a completely wrong worldview.
Hosea has taught me an immeasurable amount in the past 8 or 9 months, and one of the main things I’ve learned is to see others as souls and not just bodies. That may sound either really weird or really obvious, but unfortunately it used to be my subconscious view of the homeless. I would look at a homeless person and just see a struggling body, and not correctly see them as a human being in need of community, love, and support. I would not see them as I would see myself, because if I had actually viewed them as myself, then I’d have to do something about it. And that is why I continue to volunteer at Hosea. God calls us to treat others as we would want to be treated. He calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves, to love others as Christ loved us, and that plays out in all aspects of our lives.
The majority of the world sees a homeless youth on the corner of Kesey Square, and assumes they are up to no good. Assumes that this person had control over their life circumstances and thus deserves the position they are in. Assumes that this human being only wants a handout and doesn’t want to change the course of their life. The majority of the world is forgetting that this is a human being and that we, in fact, do not have complete control over our lives. I have been part of that majority for too long in my own life. These are the kinds of assumptions I made daily as I drove through town. These are the kind of thoughts I had because I had never been shown the reality of poverty and homelessness, never actually heard the stories of people caught in it, never actually made the effort to learn. This was the kind of worldview I had because I didn’t understand the Gospel clearly. I was ignorant, and I had remained ignorant because I was too afraid to actually get involved.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am still incredibly ignorant. I still say dumb things and make quick judgments and fail to take into account the experiences of others. But at the same time I’m learning how I have done wrong in the past and how I can go on rightly in the future. Each day at Hosea I am able to learn from the most resilient and loving people in Eugene. I get to connect with young adults that may have had a very different past than me, but share the same goals for the future and are willing to walk life with me as I walk with them. Each time I enter the drop-in center I am surrounded by beautiful souls who care for one another and show me more love than I can give in return.
~Ryan, HYS Volunteer