— Laurel Hayles for EDN
If you could change one thing in Eugene, what would it be? What makes you sad? Angry? Is it child abuse and neglect? Elder abuse and neglect? Drug abuse? Homelessness and panhandlers? All these things – poverty, abuse, neglect – are not just a drain on our community, but take their toll on us individually. They hurt us emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
Often we turn a blind eye to that which disturbs or distresses us, thinking, “There’s nothing I can do that will change it.” But who told us that? Why can’t we do something about it? Why can’t we change it? What, really, would we have to do to make it become something that pleases us, that brings us joy?
Most of us have already committed ourselves to at least one thing that requires a majority of our time, attention, and funds: keeping ourselves off the streets by being employed (and doing at least an adequate job for our employer), maintaining our homes: paying bills, buying food, doing housekeeping, etc. We raise our children and help our friends and family when we can. Many of us also have at least one cause we donate the little “extra” time, attention, and money that we have available to help as best we can.
But how much time (and money) do we spend every day pouring ourselves into a black hole that gives nothing in return – watching TV or wandering the Internet, as just a couple of examples. How many hours a day do we sit in front of the tube? Surf the ‘net for entertainment or to “touch base” with people on Facebook or other network sites, or texting on our cell phones? How many of your “Facebook friends” have you actually met in person? See on a regular (at least monthly) basis?
What would happen if we took just a part of that time, attention, and money, and went to a friend or family member’s house for a visit once a week – or had them come over to do the same? What if we dedicated one other day every week to doing something in our community that would help “fix” something that has always bothered us?
What is really keeping you from doing something about it?
If you haven’t read the book “Pay It Forward” (Catherine Ryan Hyde, 2000) I strongly recommend you do so. The premise is so simple: Do something good for three people, something that changes their lives for the better. The only way they can “pay you back” is by “paying it forward” – doing the same for three other people. Those three people become nine, who become two-hundred forty seven, who become something astronomical. It goes off the charts quickly.
Each week we will take a close look at one area of our community that is in desperate need of your help. Instead of an “Occupy Eugene” we want an “Adopt Eugene” program. This week begins with my personal cause:
Homelessness in Eugene.
Because I believe in this idea, and because I believe that the only way to bring this into reality is by doing it, I am in the process of working with local agencies to put together a pool of candidates who are currently homeless and/or jobless and who want only a chance to change that. I will be opening my home (I rent an apartment in Eugene and am a single mom with a teenager living at home) to one person who needs a safe place to sleep and store their belongings, to shower and do laundry and have decent meals to eat, and to have a local message phone and address. In turn, they will do light housekeeping for us while they are either looking for work or saving their money to be able to get their own place.
It is time for us to make a difference. Time for us to take a stand and say, “Enough!” Let’s make our city, once again, the beautiful jewel we know it really is, a emerald sparkling in the Willamette Valley.
For more information on how you can join us, please email me at [email protected] or visit us on Facebook.