A young man in a thick brown coat and scratched glasses stands in the median.

“At least a smile.” Reads his bent cardboard sign.

He isn’t wearing any gloves. The sun sinks low, the sky darkening a bleak grey. A cold winter night approaches and he is going to need a lot more than a smile to stay warm tonight. He will need a safe place to sleep.

If his destination is a Severe Weather Shelter host site, he will get his smile. Many smiles. He will receive a hot meal, a safe place to sleep, and probably even gloves knowing how these volunteers are!

He will be connected with other ministries like this one that specialize in walking him through necessary steps to getting him back under a roof. He will be shown respect, treated like a guest rather than a charity case.

And as a guest, he will clean up after himself, taking on duties to ensure the night goes smoothly. Being of service in this way will fill him with a sense of belonging and honor.

This young man deserves all that on top of the smile he requests.

Are you like me? I once subconsciously thought that all homeless people stood on corners like this with a sign.

Nope. If that were the case, there would not be many corners left in our area.

Homelessness comes in several different shapes, sizes, and circumstances. Their calls for help appearing in various ways.

For this man it came in the form of humbling himself with a sign on a cold November day.

Maybe he made a lot of bad choices, and this is the result.

Maybe he didn’t. Maybe the rent got too high and he joined so many others who do not have family or friends to help.

The heartbreaking roads to homelessness are endless but paving all these paths is a common problem – the lack of a connection. Without family, friends, or facilities lending a hand, when the trials of life come, it is difficult to stay on your feet.

So, maybe it doesn’t matter how he got there. What if all that matters is what we do about it now that he is? Are you the one with the smile he is asking for?

Please get involved today. The winter season is here.

We may not be able to eradicate homelessness, but we can meet the need for a warm place to sleep in this practical way. Let’s be the bridge connecting people like him with a brighter path.

I look forward to seeing you give away smiles next snowstorm.

With joy and gratitude,

A Girl Blessed to Serve with the Severe Weather Shelter Network

Erinn J. Campton