PAINTING THE REAL PICTURE: Youth Group organizes day to raise awareness about homeless families in the Bay Area

POOR correspondent - Posted on 23 June 2010

Monday, October 16, 2000

A cold grey mist carpeted the cement floor- and gathered at the base of the massive palm trees. Those large, brown, dusty trees that lined the path of what looked like a half-constructed Taj Majal. As I drove in to the circle of municipal art structures in the interior of Golden Gate Park towards an event entitled; Painting The Picture, Raising Awareness About Homelessness’ I started to get nervous.....

It was 2:00 pm and I couldn’t see any humans - only those dusty trees and empty benches that surrounded The Golden Gate Park Bandshell. The event sponsored by Community Action Now (CAN) a youth organization whose mission is to train young adults from diverse backgrounds to be leaders and life long learners by engaging them in service to develop their leadership potential was already supposed to be in progress and yet I saw noone.

And then suddenly through the trees and fog - I saw a small crowd gathered on the stage - sitting in a circle talking on a microphone-" Do you know what homelessness feels like...Do you know how hard it was for myself and my children......?" As I got closer I noticed a young woman from Homeless Prenatal Program (HPP) on the verge of tears grappling with words to describe the pain of "being homeless" do you describe the pain of outsideness...I thought back on my own description of that experience;

"I climbed out of my chair, unable to say a pleasant goodbye, and tumbled outside. I watch the masses pass me, certain each of their twinkling laughs was unfetteredby the imminent danger of homelessness. I had never felt so desperately sad. My bones ached with the overwhelming sadness of it all. Dry tears welled in the corners of my eyes, large gulps of unused air throttled my breathing. I could not explain this sadness to the minions of apartment dwellers that surrounded me-to be able to know your kitchen sink, look at it comfortably and know it will always be yours. To sit on your back step and fondle your light weed growth, look calmly upon your front door with no danger of not seeing it again, to lavish in insideness - your walls, your light fixtures, your toilet paper holders....

Eventually I climbed up on the stage where the small group was talking about what none ever really talks about - and of course the fact that it was only a few of us, representatives from organizations like Huckleberry House, Coalition on Homelessness, Youth Industry, Delancey Street, Homeless Prenatal Program and POOR Magazine, made complete sense, because that is the reason we were meeting... to talk ... to think and to... Paint the Real Picture.about homelessness.


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