Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What to call the homeless we work with

From "Joan":
Should we really call the homeless we work with "friends". It looks to me that friendship involves trusts, reciprocities, and shared appreciation of having things in common with one another, whereas love is not dependent on, or limited by, such things.

From Angela:
I've had similar thoughts. In some ways, "friend" doesn't
apply. But in lots of others, it does. I'm thinking there are
different levels of friendship. I'd call this one type, even though I
don't run to one person for serious emotional support, or expect another to
want to talk about philosophy and stuff. But having not much in common
does make it different.

I am connected with a lot of people who call all the folks they know on the street "friends" and I was thinking that either they were seeing their relationship with the all of them as idealistic, or they didn't know what "friendship" means.

I really AM friends with a number of folks on the street. I really appreciate them, have feelings of warmth toward them and enjoy their company. Others, I certainly don't have that relationship with. I agree with the first post that to have a "goal" of friendship for everyone on the street is a high goal. Too high perhaps. I've known perhaps a thousand people on the street over the years, and I am not friends with all of them.

But what do we call the folks we work with? Some people call them "clients" or "guests" which seems too standoffish for me. My wife and I call them "the guys" although many of them are women. "Homeless" isn't he best term, not least because it is so often used in a stereotypical, derogatory way. I like "street folks" a lot.

UPDATE: A name that seems to be coming up a lot are "the Anawimers", for those who attend our church, Anawim Christian Community, but we also use it to summarize those who are like those who attend the church-- people who are a step down from "normal" society. "Oh, that guy's an anawimer for sure." But we like inventing new terms.

1 comment:

Michael Morkve said...

It seems to me that being a friend is kinda like being a neighbor; it's not about who is yours but about whose you are.