Hi, my name is Lauren Purnell, I am a current student at Rowan College for Burlington County majoring in journalism. My mother, Kathy Parise, and I have decided to team up to publish stories from within the homeless community. We have always been strong advocates for the homeless, whether we were stopping to talk and listen to homeless people, donating money to organizations that benefit homeless individuals, or advocating for their cause to others.
Homelessness has been spreading almost as quickly as an epidemic might and the public is reacting as if these people are a disease. Most civilians will shy away from these individuals, or even entire families, acting as if they don’t even exist, just to avoid any form of confrontation. The reason behind this defense mechanism could be one of many: they’d rather not enable them, they feel unsafe being in their presence, they feel as if the homeless are ruining their image of society, etc. And why is this? The immediate answer is: most people believe in the stereotypes that homeless people are dirty, uneducated, often violent druggies, which explains why they try to steer themselves as clear of them as possible. What most people don’t care to ask, or understand, is why or how they became homeless, as if they willingly chose this lifestyle as an “easy” way out. The word homeless has since developed a negative connotation in the eyes of society but the true definition can go much deeper than simply labeling someone without a home. Having a disability, fleeing from domestic violence, suffering from a mental illness, loss of a job or maybe a family member– these are all reason enough to push someone over the edge and onto the streets. Another thing to consider is that those who are prone to becoming homeless lack the same opportunities more successful people have, such as a wholesome family or a higher education.
I decided to create this blog as a means of getting the voices of the homeless heard, this way they can share the truth within their stories the way that it deserves to be heard, rather than through the harsh tone that society has adopted whenever they decide to acknowledge these individuals. Beginning on October 7th, 2017, Kathy and I will be traveling to Philadelphia, PA, every other Saturday seeking out a different homeless person biweekly to interview. With us we will bring a care package to offer these individuals, these packages will include things like deodorant, tooth brushes and toothpaste, hair brushes, water, canned goods, hand sanitizer, blankets, etc. After the interviewee is finished sharing their story with us we will return home and I will then begin transferring the information into a readable blog post for you, the reader, to digest.
Stay tuned for our first addition, expected to arrive this weekend!