Keep the conversation going

Gary Huffenberger - Staff columnist

First came the late September removal of homeless encampments and associated items, no doubt including litter. But two sources told me that some affected people lost possession of items they needed or wanted in the “sweep” around Wilmington when over 5,200 pounds of material were cleared.

Then on Sunday of last week, an event called “Communion: A Forum on Homelessness” was held at Sugartree Ministry Center in Wilmington. About 100 people attended the event to break bread and converse about homelessness and potential solutions.

And three days later, on a personal level, my house was entered and ransacked, apparently by a homeless person, judging from what I saw.

Left behind were his two back packs with his belongings, his cell phone which was plugged into an electrical outlet for charging, and his jacket with his Swiss Army knife in a pocket. While inside, he ate yogurt, peanuts, part of a pumpkin pie, and at least one ice cream sandwich. A small paper bag contained pudding and jello boxes from my cabinet as well as food condiments, while a plastic zip bag held Band-Aids, small boxes of matches, gauze pads, Ibuprofen, cotton, and a tooth brush, all appearing to be mine.

The explanation for what I found may be that he heard my arrival and didn’t take the time to grab even his own things.

Right now, though, I simply want to urge further public conversation about the homeless people in our midst. A part of that conversation can involve examining our own attitudes toward these homeless.

Below is a statement printed last month in the News Journal that you may have missed and that I regard as a contribution to the discussion. It was in an election preview article for Wilmington City Council’s 2nd Ward seat.

Councilman Michael Snarr said, “Yet as I speak to people in Wilmington, the conversations turn to homelessness and drug addiction. As a long-time board member of Sugartree Ministries, a professor at a community-minded College, and a member of a compassionate local church (Wilmington Friends), I have been concerned with these issues for decades. These are very complex issues that defy generalization, that is, people are homeless and addicted for different reasons and we must develop a multi-faceted approach.

“The good news is we have a wide range of well-equipped compassionate organizations and individuals seeking to develop solutions to help those individuals struggling, and in turn, make Wilmington a better place to live,” Snarr added.

Here’s hoping those compassionate organizations and individuals can help the struggling individuals.

Surely, this Thanksgiving we all can be thankful we are not one of the struggling homeless.

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.

Gary Huffenberger

Staff columnist