I was surprised that many individuals Gallagher encountered on the streets did not want to be taken to a shelter. One possible reason for this is that some individuals were used to being in a certain town, such as Scottsdale, and were afraid to be placed in a shelter with different surroundings, such as in downtown Phoenix. Many times, Gallagher simply provided these people with items, such as blankets or food. This way, even though they did not want to be moved to a shelter, or leave from their area with Gallagher, they still received some aid. On the other hand, there are many people who panic and seek whatever help they can receive. I found it important to know that overall, not every homeless person seeks the same aid.
Using this information to fight my own stereotypes and assumptions regarding the homeless is one way I can apply this information to my life. I can be aware that while some people prefer shelters, others prefer to try to make it on their own. Another way I can apply parts of the discussion to my life is to realize that the number of those in poverty is increasing, and to possibly provide aid by either supporting some individuals with spare clothes and food, or contacting social workers to inform them of any homeless people I may encounter. A third way I can apply Gallagher’s discussion to my life is to remember that many social workers try to focus on stabilizing homeless people’s environments. Doing this could allow me to be more aware of my reactions to homeless people, to possibly treat them in a more positive way, and to not be seen as a negative influence to their environment.
One question that piqued my curiosity during the presentation was, “Would it be more beneficial to help a newly homeless person, possibly from the middle class, or a long-time homeless person first?” I found student’s different responses interesting, as they argued diverse points. Another question that piqued my interest was, “Is poverty becoming more diverse?” I was surprised to hear that it is, and I am curious as to what more can be done to help those in poverty.
I found the experiences and material shared by the second guest speaker, John Gallagher, to be exceptionally interesting and informational. I felt that the statistics on poverty were among the most important information shared since most of it was new knowledge to me. It also allowed everyone to put things into perspective by comparing the income we or our parents make to the income of those in poverty. The information Gallagher presented on how many homeless people have mental illness or some sort of addiction was also very significant since it gave us an idea of what working with this demographic might entail. I felt that the most important material the speaker shared was how very few of the homeless individuals he’s worked with were in their situation because they wanted to be or just didn’t want to work, and that most people he’s seen are homeless because they’ve lacked opportunities in life. Many people make the incorrect assumption that the homeless are on the streets because they’re lazy and just live off of free resources, so Gallagher’s point on the topic was very significant.
One way I can apply the information to my own life is by being more sensitive towards the homeless individuals I encounter. I sometimes have the mentality that many of them are homeless because of addiction, but as discussed in class, it could be due to mental illness. A way I can apply the statistics shared is by knowing what constitutes as “poverty”, according to income level. Knowledge of this can help me help others to obtain resources such as Medicaid and food stamps. I can use this information in my future career, since I want to work with people in low-income neighborhoods, by making sure certain resources, like internet access and a phone number to put on job applications, are available so that people can utilize them to get back on their feet.
Two questions that piqued my curiosity were “What resources are available to the working poor so that they can move out of poverty?” and “What type of preventive action can be taken to keep people from falling into poverty?”
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