In today’s paper, you hear from people without a warm, safe place to sleep at night, and from people anxiously teetering on the edge of homelessness. And you are introduced to distressing statistics that show that these kinds of dangers are more common than you might think — even here in Eastern Oregon.
Homelessness might feel like a big city concern, and it sure is more visible when you travel to Portland, Seattle or Eugene. But you don’t have to walk far along the river levy in Pendleton or to see evidence of people living their lives without the benefit of shelter.
And as the temperature dips below freezing and the weather turns nasty, a lack of housing becomes a matter of life and death.
Earlier in the week we reported on the warming stations in Pendleton and Hermiston, powered completely by volunteers, that offer a safe place for people with nowhere else to turn. There’s no doubt that’s a life-saving effort.
It’s all the more important when we think of children facing those obstacles.
Administrators and teachers and classmates in all area schools know children who are doing just that. Some are being bounced around between couches and apartments, never having a steady address or space to call their own. Some are moving from town to town with itinerant parents so often that they can’t get a consistent education. And some are living on the street or the back seat of a car, freezing beneath blankets despite nonprofit and government help available to their families.
Their struggle should not be easily dismissed. There are many factors — systemic, economic and personal — at play, but withholding compassion and searching for blame as a child suffers is a sure way prolong the suffering.
But as an antidote to this trouble and mistreatment, hopefully you read the Limey Pastor’s column in Friday’s paper. He wrote about rescuing a man and a dog living on the street, taking the dog to a veterinarian and putting the duo up a few nights in a motel to catch up on sleep and stay warm. It was a beautiful story about a man who puts his faith into real action.
Each of these stories are a reminder that during the holiday season, there are people out there who are less fortunate than us. We must care for them when we can, and sometimes when we believe we cannot.
That must be especially true about our young people, especially those who need from the community what they are not given by their family.