On what will probably be a quick news flash on most Virginian’s ‘news radar’, the Arlington County Board unanimously approved a permit to open a year-round homeless shelter in the Courthouse neighborhood.
The “overnight shelter,” dubbed the Homeless Services Center, will include 50 permanent beds, 25 additional beds for the winter, and 5 beds for medical purposes.
The center is supposed to open in 2014, occupying 2 floors of an Arlington County owned building. In addition to its shelter services, the Homeless Service Center will also offer support services, a program space and dining area.
According to Arlington County Board Chairman Walter Tejada, the goal of the homeless shelter is to assist everyone find permanent housing.
The shelter, whether purposely or not, is also a reaffirmation of our responsibility as a society and caring individuals to give back to others, particularly those whose life circumstances have been less fortunate than our own.
Some will argue that poor choices in life have driven some, if not many, of those seeking the services of a homeless shelter, but this certainly isn’t true for every individual who ends up in a shelter.
But even if individual A (insert name here) were somehow mostly or entirely to blame for their being in a homeless shelter, have we become so heartless as a society that we are willing to turn our backs on helping this individual?
I will not and have not argued that all individuals who have fallen on hard times deserve equal help from society. But if we cannot learn to love, respect, and lend a hand to one another, and especially those who arouse our disrepute, then we truly will have become a society laudable merely for its material prosperity, not its prosperity of the soul, so to speak.
I’m not religious and do not play a religious character on TV. But within the great Western religions there are important lessons that we can apply to our daily lives. One of those lessons is to love our neighbors, and that means helping others however and whenever we can.
In these relatively uncertain economic times, it’s all the more important to remember this lesson in particular.