Last week for Easter break my daughter went on a local missions trip. The youth advisers really took the time to highlight Fresno to the Jr.High students. The youth did things like clean up graffiti, take a driving tour of certain parts of Fresno, help with a spring camp for students at Lowell Elementary, and cleaned up a community garden. The group also had some people come and speak to them about certain issues in Fresno. While she was sharing about what she learned, my daughter mentioned some things about the homeless population.
Now, without getting political or debating the situation, this is something that has been on my mind for some time now. I know this situation is not unique to Fresno, but it’s still an important topic. If you’ve driven anywhere around town, I’m sure you’ve had some sort of experience with a homeless person. Personally, I’ve really struggled with seeing some of these people. There is one gentleman who hangs out on a corner by where I live. He’s actually made the median look pretty nice. I see him daily, and my heart goes out to him. I’m sure some people might have strong feelings about giving homeless money. Or food. Or any sort of hand out. I’m not here to tell you how you should interact with people you encounter. I’m simply sharing my experiences. My experience is that I do sometimes give people money or food. Having said that, I know by doing so, it’s not going to “fix” the problem. (This is something I’ve come to realize just recently.) In the altruistic world I live in, I’d like to think there will be a time when there are no homeless people. I love my city, and I’d like to believe that we can perhaps reach out to these people in need. Someway. Somehow.
I don’t have an answer on how to do this, or what it even looks like. However, I have a friend who might. Her name is Lisa Lindsay, and she is behind a new movie called Our Lives: Surviving the Streets of Fresno. This movie looks at 10 individuals who are homeless here in Fresno. These individuals open up about their lives on the streets. They share about many things, one being how not all homeless people are drug addicts, like some people think. These are their real stories, and they are sharing so much more with us than we can imagine. This movie was made by multiple library staff (Lisa is a librarian for the Fresno County Public Library, hence the connection), with help from some people from the movie. Ms. Yellowfeather Noriega took still photos, as well as interviewed each person for the film. She was an integral part of the making of this film. What I love most, is that she was once homeless herself. Wait, I don’t love that she was homeless. I love that she’s telling her story, encouraging others to tell theirs, and sharing this with all of us.
I really encourage you to see this movie. I haven’t watched it yet, but I’m going to tonight’s screening. There will be two showings of the movie, one tonight at 7pm, and again on Tuesday, also at 7pm. Tonight’s showing will be at the UU Church of Fresno, which is located at 2672 E Alluvial (Between Chestnut & Willow). The second showing will be at CMAC in Downtown Fresno (The old Met Building), located at 1555 Van Ness Avenue. Both events are free. Yes, free.
After the showing there will be a panel discussion with individuals from the movie. All ages are invited to go. Since my daughter has had some connection to this recently, I’m going to take her. I’m truly looking forward to this movie, and I am extremely eager to hear these stories first hand.
Lisa was recently interviewed for Valley Public Radio (go to minute 45). She was asked the question, “What is the goal for this movie?” She answered, “That people see the shared humanity that we have with each other, that’s the real goal. We look towards a different Fresno where we’re all working together.” I absolutely love that…To see the shared humanity we have with each other. Yes! In the interview Lisa also said that she wanted to be able to look at homeless people in the eye. That’s a very important thing. To have eye contact says a lot to a person. This reminds me of a bible study I was recently part of. We were actually talking about some of the homeless people around town. My friend was saying (I’m paraphrasing) that Jesus would want us to treat these people as a whole human being. To really look at them. To treat them as a real person, because guess what? They are real people. They are someone’s son or daughter. They might be a brother or a sister. Maybe even a father or a mother. But most importantly, they are real people, deserving of our love. If you have the chance, look at one of these individuals in the eye. Make that connection, and see that person as a whole.
If you’d like to read more about the movie, check out what Lisa has to say.
Also, here are some important facts about Fresno and homelessness.
I hope you’re able to see this movie. I hope it opens our eyes to those in our community. Personally, I hope to leave with an awareness, having learned something new.