As originally published in the June-July
'94 edition of "Hard Times"
A Touch of Reality In
The World Of Education"
by Jessie Yager
Helping Poor and Homeless People is a non-profit organization founded
seven years ago. Volunteers prepare and distribute food and
clothing to homeless people in Lincoln and Memorial Parks. What
is truly amazing about CHPHP is its ability to affect people. I
have been involved with the group for the past two years, on and
off, and almost every time I go on the route I see something that
reaffirms my belief in the effort. Whether it is spending
time to talking to someone, or hearing people say "Thank you"
when you hand them food, it is hard to dispute that this group of
volunteers has truly touched the lives of others.
Arguments are made that feeding programs like CHPHP
do more harm than good. They are even accused of encouraging
homelessness. Though I now realize the ludicrousness of these
contentions, at one time I was one of the people who agreed with
I first heard about CHPHP
when one of my friends started working with it two years ago. When
she first told me what it was and what it did, I was rather unsupportive
of the idea. I thought what many innocent but ignorant people
who really do care about the situation thought: 'How does
giving people handouts solve any problems?' But when my 11th
grade community service requirement of 30 hours was staring me in
the face, CHPHP was one of the few places I had to turn. I
am embarrassed to say this, but it is true: I originally got
involved with CHPHP because it appeared to be an easy solution to
my community service problem. Little did I know that my opinions,
my outlook, and in many ways my life would be altered because of
Even after my
first day working with CHPHP I realized that all of my preconceptions
of the organization, homeless people, and the homeless situation
were false. After seeing what CHPHP really does - give hope,
support, and friendship to people in need - I think that what it
is doing is the ultimate form of help. But beyond the respect
that I have for what CHPHP does and how fortunate I feel for being
given an opportunity to work with them, the majority of my gratitude
is for what they have taught me.
learned more than I ever thought I would about local politics and
the homeless situation in our community, state, and country. Most
importantly I have really been able to meet people. Real people.
Because of the contact that I have had with the homeless people
we see on the route, I have been able to shatter the myths and prejudices
that I had previously held. From the volunteers I have worked
with I have learned compassion, tolerance and kindness. From
the homeless people I have met I have learned about struggle, suffering
I consider my time spent
with CHPHP to be among the most valuable of my high school career.
I honestly feel that I have become a better person because
of my connection with the multitude of volunteers I have worked
with and learned from. And I have been given an invaluable
education, from the many homeless people I have come into contact
with, that I feel is unique. Next fall I am starting as a
freshman at a college in Connecticut. Connecticut is very
far away from my home. But, I think that I am ready to face
the future because I have been given such a strong foundation of
values and ideals, much of which has come from working with CHPHP.
I am forever indebted to all those who made this education
possible for me. If you would like to contact CHPHP you can
note: The above article was written by a high school student
at Crossroads School, an exclusive private school that promotes
the concept that its students are a part of the general community
and encourages them to become involved in various community social