Brother Keepers

The purpose of this program is to feed the homeless on Skid Row, many of which are mentally ill or substance abusers. The two evenings are Mondays and Wednesdays at St. Bede Church located at 215 Foothill Bled, in La Canada, 91011. A second location which meets on Tuesday is St. James Church at 4625 Duunsmore Ave. , La Crescenta, 91214 A third location which meets on Thursday evenings is Holy Redeemer Church at 2411 Montrose Ave, Montrose 91020. I arrived at 4 pm to assist the staff with preparing meals, homeless shelter, and distribute the food.

I also stayed with the staff at all times while in Skid Row. Feeding the homeless is an exciting experience. At all locations, the experiences are not inherently different as similar participants were attended and their needs met. The beauty of the program is that it addressed the three basic needs of man: food, clothing and shelter. These needs are universal and when people are involved in meetings, recipients of such gesture are eternally grateful. This is what happened during the program.

While serving the people with food at the church, these people found a comfortable place to rest and to be fed. I found the experience to be an eye-opener to the challenges that people face in life; it opened my eyes to understand what it really means to homeless and steps to help people in such circumstance. The population served was basically homeless who lived on Skid Row without any comfortable shelter. Some of them used the opportunity to narrate how they resorted to the Row for shelter, how they lost their jobs, the meaning of life and later eventually became homeless.

Others talk about the inhuman treatment they had in their hostile homes which drove them to abuse substance, and the series of events which culminated in their ejection from their homes. Because of their experiences have become mentally ill sequel to inability to adjust to the stressful life events they had passed through, they have begun to abuse drugs and substances such as alcohol, cigarette, cannabis, marijuana, amphetamines and other stimulants. They said the latter keeps them off their problems and gives them temporary relief from the horrible conditions where they reside.

They were receptive of the gesture and received it with gladness, as they expressed their appreciation without hesitation. These people need our people; they are wonderful. There are ethical, psychological, spiritual, cultural, legal and economic principles related to the homeless population living in Los Angeles. It is noteworthy to state that giving money to the homeless will not help solve their inherent problem. It is better to adopt a holistic approach where the underlying psychological or psychiatric problem is duly addressed. This is where the spiritual houses like churches have become useful, as in this program.

The feeding took place in churches. These houses still provide a place of comfort for the less disadvantaged and homeless in the society. A combination of spiritual help with government intervention can help alleviate the challenges of homelessness. Such government interventions will include provision of housing facilities at affordable prices. A social welfare provision is also encouraged but it must be meant for citizens who have no or limited means to help them. Substance abuse is a common psychiatric problem amongst the homeless. There is also increased risk of depression and suicides.

Besides, sexual promiscuity is on the high side there as social disinhibition is out of place. Besides, community acquired pneumonia and tuberculosis are also prevalent among people living on the streets because they live in overcrowded places. Diarrheal diseases are also common. The staffs at Brothers Helpers demonstrate professionalism in dealing with the homeless: they exude confidence while they deal nicely with these needy people. They show understanding of the conditions of this set of people, and are really compassionate. I am glad I had such an experience: I realize that to make others happy is the key to fulfillment in life

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