Learning compassion on the streets

for everyone, especially those in power, it should be mandatory to walk in another’s moccasins… furry paws and all… what would happen if shelter admins actually had to live for a night or a week in a hard damp cell, in a shelter with a concrete floor, no pillow, no blanket, all kinds of upsetting noises, many dogs crying, barking, whining, and little attention.  Double dog dare ya shelter employees to do this as an adventure/experience in LEARNING COMPASSION, growing a heart for the animals you are supposed to be servicing.

Be a Pit Bull for a day from Adrienne Clegg


The Patrick Movement for NJ
~~ edited ~~ “One guy left his dog in a locked car in [a Nevada] Walmart parking lot. Cops were called, man was located in the store, made to put on a heavy jacket he had in his car, and sit in the locked car for 15 minutes while the dog was given water and checked for heat stroke. Then he was ticketed…bet he never does that again!” ~d

As many as 3.4 million Americans are likely to experience homelessness this year  a 35 percent increase since the recession started in December 2007  and a majority will be families with children.

And I commend these people in Tennessee for getting out of their comfort zone and experiencing life through another lens.

(Chattanooga)-What would happen if you were 18 years old, three months pregnant, from Chicago, and your boyfriend left you in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with $5 to your name? A small group of Dr. Lisa Muirhead’s nursing students at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga embraced that scenario as part of The Homeless Project.

When her students arrived for what they thought would be a lecture, Muirhead instead divided them into groups, dropped them off at downtown locations, gave them different identities and challenges, and asked them to spend three hours exploring how they would survive.

This “lived experience” allowed students to view lives in a very vulnerable population. Students explored whether they could wash dishes for a free meal, tried to seek shelter, searched for resources and located people who could likely guide them, including homeless individuals.

“At the conclusion of the experience, students examined their preconceived ideas, attitudes and assumptions about the homeless. These ideas and attitudes, when present in the health care system, can lead to poor interpersonal relationships between patients and health care providers, patient resentment, distrust, disparate care and poor health outcomes,” said Muirhead, Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing.

One group met with Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield to gather the facts about the local homeless situation. According to the mayor’s office, there is a base rate of 300-400 homeless in Chattanooga. Since the population moves seasonally, Chattanooga’s spring thaw may cause the number to bal¬loon to more than 1,000. Economic pressure has created a growing demographic of homeless single earner families, often mothers with children.

Armed with experience and knowledge of the health issues and needs of homeless individuals, the students developed a community service project that met both their educational and service goals.

“The students decided to participate in a commu¬nity-wide event called Project Homeless Connect. Starting with an operating budget of zero money and no supplies, students had to consider marketing, media, resource procurement, logistics and educating their own group,” Muirhead said.

Students at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga respond:

“You look at people and you sort of sum up how you think they live their lives very quickly. And you can be so wrong, so absolutely wrong. So I’m not going to assume anymore.” —Julie Henry


“I don’t spend much time thinking about where I’m going to eat, where I’m going to sleep or what I’m going to wear. That can take up a whole day for a homeless person.

“You look at underpasses differently, you see trash cans differently, you see area businesses differently if you only have $5.” —Abby Lee


“They sleep outside, they get food, they share food, and people are mean to them most of the time. They are normal people, they’ve gone through hard times and they are not happy with their lives. They wish it were different, but they don’t seem to know how to get out of the situation.” —Kathleen Hoffpauir


“When I shook his hand and said, ‘David, it’s a pleasure to meet you,’ I had an instant friend. To actually see someone caring was such a surprise to him. These are people we normally look through, not at.” —Christopher Wheatley


“At the very end they asked us ‘can we ask you for one favor, since we’ve done some favors for you?’ And the first thing that came to my mind was they wanted money, which I would have gladly given them. But all they wanted was a hug. It was a very touching moment.” —Kelly Fuller

please donate pet food, treats or via paypal to Patrick’s Pet Food Bank in Seaside, a Pets of the Homeless site.



Filed under affordable housing, All you need is love, dogs, donations, economy, food, moms, mutts, pet care, pit bull, Uncategorized

2 responses to “Learning compassion on the streets

  1. Hey, I don’t know your name,
    I like your idea of shelter admins actually spending a night or a week in a in a shelter on a concrete floor, it would definitely give them a different perspective.

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