Family First Values | AKA: Why Giving To Homeless Feels Wrong

Yesterday, Sage took to Facebook and mentioned that the charity was now grabbing some of our personal savings to stay afloat. I am a very private person, so this felt like he’d hung our underwear on the outside laundry line. And no, he didn’t check in with me before that post went out. Ehem.

I was raised with traditional, middle class values. One of which is that you take care of your family first and then, if you have enough, you give to others if you so choose. Of course, this “enough,” and its definition, is subjective and debatable. But, it’s fair to assume that most people would save for their child’s college education before giving 40 homeless people a place to pitch a tent & stay warm. 

I’ll admit, I am in seriously new territory here. Sage is always dragging me into said new territories with a smile and an enthusiastic cry for adventure. I gotta hand it to him, so far so amazing. We’ve had fantastic lives thanks to him. Much better than if we only did the boring, safe, and normal things I am prone to pursue. This time, however, it’s really different. There are days it feels like I may be taking things away from our family, from our kid, to help strangers.

Since this time last year, I have been the only breadwinner for the Lewis household. Sage has made, and makes, no money on this labor of love. Draws no salary. What I earn must support both our personal expenses and the building / utility expenses at 15 Broad Street where the homeless now live. The charity raised just over $20K last year. Amazing. And yet, every hour I work, I must take 25% of that cash and give it to the charity to cover expenses. Now, in winter, utilities are up and I need to give away 35%, but I cannot do that and still cover personal expenses. So now, we dip into savings.

I don’t anticipate admiration for this by the way. I anticipate eye rolling scorn because every fiber of my being tells me this is idiotic. Logic says I have skewed priorities, or Sage does, and I need to reign it in pronto.

Fact is, I’m constantly conflicted. But I am parting with savings, for now, because I have never seen Sage happier in his entire life. I also love these people we help. They’re amazing and they’ve been through so much and I’ve been so privileged and lucky my whole life that this makes a lot of sense to me. Besides, thus far the sacrifices have been small. We’re still living middle class lives.  

I also have hope that the charity will soon be self sustaining. It will be a while before Sage can draw a salary for his work, but the charity covering its expenses seems likely by the end of 2018. We have SO many supporters in the community. We received a grant, we were invited to submit another and there are some heavy hitting nonprofit partners that believe in what we do. Who am I to doubt such a well intentioned and well supported endeavor?

So, for now, we dip into a bit of savings to keep it all going. In the meantime, I sort of loiter around the life support plug with a really heavy feeling — torn between traditional family values and what feels like a higher purpose.

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By the way, if you want to give to The Homeless Charity, click here. And to everyone who has given and keeps giving, thank you. I can’t believe how generous everyone has been. It’s crazy.

 

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