I try to keep a pretty positive attitude/outlook about the things that happen in my life, but on some occasions, this can be quite a challenge. I’ve learned that having challenges and setbacks help you learn to reevaluate what is important to you, which is highly important to the process of self-growth, but that doesn’t make the disappointments any less discouraging.
Recently, I tried to freelance my writing for the Homeless Youth Resource Center, in downtown Salt Lake City. I tried to make the offer as sweet and tantalizing as possible, where the organization would have nothing to lose in the process of me writing; they would have nothing to lose by looking at my piece and maybe offering advice, or not even that, if that would be too difficult for their limited resources.
Well, suffice to say, I was blocked. Literally blocked. This doesn’t surprise me; I have been blocked before, from helping out these organizations, and so I wasn’t surprised when, without explanation, I was told that my skills couldn’t be used … even though I tried to make it clear that they would have nothing to lose via my freelancing. At the very least, we could have written a good piece of writing that would help educate people. They didn’t even provide an explanation for not wanting to get involved.
They tried to play it off as simply rejecting me because there was no room for my “volunteering” … even though I made it clear I wasn’t volunteering, I was going out of my way and doing something as indirect and non-invasive as possible, to lighten the load for these organizations. I repeat: I was not volunteering. I was offering my services as a writer, which wouldn’t have even required me to work with the minors. I made that as clear as I could.
There was a wide range of things I could have written for them/because of their help. Sociological studies (brief ones) on homeless youth. A philosophical piece on the ethics of homelessness and specifically, the interaction of homeless people with the public. I could have written a reflective piece/my thoughts on homelessness in general. I could have written a journalistic piece that focused on specific facts about homelessness in Utah and homelessness in general. The point: Anything that would educate people on homelessness. The mission that I made clear from the get-go. We underestimate nowadays the power of the press, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an impact. And again, this organization had nothing to lose by utilizing my (free!) skills … skills that deserve respect, at the very least.
To complicate matters, I sent an email to them laying down very specific points. First, that simply feeding the homeless kids isn’t going to get them off the streets. (After a homeless kid tried to bully me, I realized that obviously feeding a homeless kid won’t make him happy.) Education will give them a better shot, however. Sure, I get that when you’re on the streets, you are worrying about your survival, but education has to fit somewhere in there, somewhere, or so that is an intuition I cannot shake. Essentially what I was trying to offer with my skills on writing. Maybe I couldn’t have educated the homeless youth, per se, but I could have at least educated the public, which would then make the lives easier for the homeless youth.
I also said that it wasn’t okay to be treated rudely by a staff member (which happened … he rudely brushed me off when I was trying to get help for another homeless person I was trying to help on my own), because it reflects badly on the organization, and calls into question the integrity of the organization itself. That is a problem.
The final problem I pointed out was simply that writing can go a long way. There is no telling what a good piece of journalism, written for the disenfranchised, could accomplish. What makes me sad, and feel like this opportunity was wasted, was simply how they had nothing to lose … and they tried to downplay it as if they just couldn’t use my skills. If anything, they could use my skills, they just didn’t want to. It was a conscious choice on their part … and a bad choice, if you don’t mind me saying so.
We can only construct solid buildings by having first a solid foundation. In my experience with various organizations, there is no solid foundation. By writing, I hope to help build a solid foundation. I hope to tell the truth. Unfortunately, at least in this venue, I was denied that opportunity … but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop. A step in the right direction is posting this piece on my blog. I seek to help build a solid foundation for homeless people, and I plan on doing that via my writing. It is one way of attacking the issue. It is one way of getting to the core of it. True, I could use the help of organizations (that are in the business of helping the homeless) to write solid pieces and help build that foundation, but I will have to make do without them. I have a wealth of experiences to draw on, and my thinking outside the box, while irksome to many people, will catch on when the time is right. I firmly believe that. They can reject my “volunteering” that is not even volunteering but me going out of my way, but it won’t stop me. I’m determined to do this. I don’t take wasted chances. I can’t settle for less, in short. I just can’t.
My final note? Wanting to help the homeless shouldn’t be this hard, with the constant and unnecessary road blocks/walls. Rather than encouraging me, they are destroying my passion. But thankfully, only destroying it to an extent. I am learning how to observe from the outside-in, which gives me an advantage I wouldn’t have if I was working from the inside-out. I’d probably be brainwashed to see things a certain way if that was the case. This way, I can look at the situation objectively … and tell the truth when the time is right and will have an impact. And in that sense, they are actually doing me favors by openly resisting me.
Talk about irony, I suppose, when it all finally comes out in the wash …