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  • Writer's pictureRogene "Jeannie" McPherson, Country Notebook

The homeless and second chances

Updated: Aug 2, 2023


(Wix file photo)


Country Notebook

By Rogene "Jeannie" McPherson


It was a sad day. It was the day I took a few items for give-away to Hope Faith Ministries in downtown Kansas City for the homeless.


We are not to be prideful of the good things we do for others, but sometimes it just gets the best of me. As you may recall from previous stories, I like to shop for bargains. Some bargains may find a place in my home, but generally I prefer to give to others “less fortunate than me.” So it was with the winter clothing sales at the end of the season. Sweat pants and tops and thermal underwear was marked down 70-90 percent of its original price at the local discount stores.


Knowing Hope Faith has storage space available, I took the trunk-load of items to 7th and Admiral the next time I had an opportunity to get that far into Kansas City. With family coming, I assumed they would want a space on a bed to sleep and that’s where these items had been taking up space.

It was a beautiful early summer afternoon. Often there are adults standing outside the building, but especially so this day. As I rang the doorbell to be ushered in, a young man politely asked if he could look at a pair of the sweat pants, taking a 2X that I knew would wrap around him twice. Perhaps he wanted the pants for someone larger in size, but I soon found out he was just trying to make the most of a situation. The attendant suggested I not give items personally to individuals. Hope Faith prefers doing the giving. Apparently my wanting to be kind could have led to quite a ruckus.


My imagination soon took over and I could see tens of people looking for something warm. Even summer nights can be cool when one is sleeping outdoors on concrete, grass or the bare ground.


Having successfully entered the building with the goods, I soon left for my car where about five individuals were sitting out of the sun on the concrete sidewalk. Being in a jovial mood because of the good I had done that afternoon and wanting to show respect for their humanity, I asked if meals were served on the weekend. One gentlemen said only Saturday mornings, but sometimes a truck from another charitable organization would arrive later in the weekend offering free food.


Getting brave, I then asked if they had a tent to sleep in. The woman might have just as well taken her umbrella and pushed me to the ground as I was just as knocked over by her comment. No, she politely said, this is my tent, my umbrella. She smiled, showing that most of her front teeth were either knocked out or due to poor nutrition and/or no dental care were missing. I had just spent a large sum of money on a dental bridge for my mouth and suddenly I felt guilty about my vanity.


I entered my car looking for anything I might have stored in an emergency kit. Not much was suitable, but I gave her a small tube of toothpaste and tooth brush recently given to me by my dentist. Then, I remembered the bags of pasta and vegetables I had bought for the Blessings Box in Mound City. I only hoped she had a way of cooking the food. She smiled again and I felt she thought she had just won the lottery.


I only stand about 5’4” on a good day, but this day I felt about 3’ tall when I arrived home to cool air, a bed with matching bedding and more than enough food to keep me heathy for weeks. I don’t worry about my next meal and my dogs certainly don’t either.


In this third story about second chance homes, I have come to appreciate the home where I laugh, eat, pray, and sometimes cry. I am painfully aware of the many people who make do with an umbrella for their home and the charity of others to provide a cold or hot meal. We don’t always understand how these individuals came to the predicament they are in, but I do know their body aches likes mine for warmth or coolness and their stomach growls just as much as mine when hungry. How I wish I could give each person a second chance at life, stable mental health and a safe house to live in. I can’t make a difference for all, but hopefully without pride I’ll do my best to make “a difference for one.”


Rogene “Jeanne” McPherson, from the Centerville area, is a regular contributor to the Linn County Journal. She recently published a book about her experiences entitled Posts from the Country, Adventures in Rural Living. It is available online in both virtual and printed editions. Copies are on the shelves at all Linn County libraries.

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