The day I saw love and dignity on full display

Homeless camp under bridge

Written by Sangeetha Gummadi, Donor Relations Director, Salvation Army Northern Division

While driving to church through the downtown streets, my friend and I pulled up behind a car, waiting for the red light to turn green. On the street corner stood a middle-aged man, holding a cardboard sign. The message on his sign was a simple request for money or food, written in black marker.

In seeing this man, my friend and I began to discuss all of the different thoughts and feelings that people can have when they see people experiencing homelessness. We discussed how reactions can range from pity, to anger, to avoiding eye-contact.

A moment later, the driver ahead of us lowered his window to speak to the man on the corner. The driver leaned out the window and greeted the man, offered him some cash, and handed him a business card. I watched curiously and intently.

For a split-second I caught a glimpse of the driver’s face in his mirror. He was a young man, and his smile radiated warmth and care. There was a something familiar about him that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

Small world

At the next stoplight, I asked my friend to pull up alongside the car of the kind and selfless driver. I just had to see who this Good Samaritan was.

David HunterAs we pulled up, I recognized him immediately. The kind man was David Hunter (pictured), a counselor at The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center in Minneapolis (pictured). I had met him in person before.

David has a remarkable story. He battled addiction for many years until God brought him to recovery at The Salvation Army. He has been sober for three years, and he now mentors men who are enduring the same difficult journey he once travelled.

And there was David at that stoplight, living out his mission to serve, in his daily life even outside of work. (Watch a video about David.)

I was blessed to witness David live out his faith. He treated the man on the corner with dignity and Christlike love. Of all the cars and all the people in the world, my friend and I got to witness David’s kindness to another brother on that cold winter Sunday morning.

Love and dignity

It is not easy to see someone trying to survive on the snowy city streets or in your very own neighborhood. Sometimes we avoid eye contact. Sometimes we walk a little faster.

Homeless man sleeping on groundBut, just imagine what it would be like to be cold or hungry or sick, with no home and no support network. Imagine what it would be like to watch hundreds of people walk by you each day and pretend you do not exist.

The question of how to help is not always an easy one. But the best way to begin is by treating everyone you see with dignity. If you feel moved to connect, say hello. Perhaps you don’t have any money on you, but you can always ask if there is another way you can help. I always ask if they’ve visited a nearby Salvation Army location – where they can receive food, clothing, and other resources.

Indeed, every person is deserving of help. Every person is deserving of dignity.

My prayer is that no matter how you react, you choose to do it out of love.

The Salvation Army Northern Division pledges to do the most good with your gifts of time and money, with 81 cents of every dollar going directly to services. Join us by volunteering or making a donation to support your local community. Stay current on how The Salvation Army is changing lives in Minnesota and North Dakota by signing up for our e-Newsletters.

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