It’s easy to misclassify and describe those less fortunate among us by lumping everyone together under the umbrella of “homeless.”

Some look down upon the homeless for their appearance and apparent lack of ability to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps,” and to care for their own needs. This attitude is both simplistic and unkind.

Many in our community are misidentified this way, and their individual situations are varied and not easily distinguished. Some have been born to dysfunctional families, others may suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome, and a few, like my cousin, suffered from malnutrition at a critical time in infancy and later reached adulthood with diminished mental capacity. Like many, she’s loving, kind and equally deserving, but could easily have ended up on today’s streets.

More than a few suffer directly or indirectly from mental health issues.

We must ask ourselves if it is any wonder some have difficulty getting and/or holding a job? Substance abuse issues, addictions, domestic violence and situational poverty are but a few examples of the complex problems this country faces when considering how to best address our ever-increasing “homeless” populations.

Everyone needs to recognize these individual differences before we can best help anyone. I hope everyone realizes that just as there is no “one” cause of homelessness, there will be no single solution either.

Admittedly, not everyone who comes through the doors at one of Curry County’s meals programs is equally easy to be around. There’s nothing wrong in recognizing that. Some are more appreciative, some are more giving, and others have less capacity to do so, but all are equally deserving of a daily nutritious meal. Thankfully, all are served in dignity and respect, and hopefully Curry residents everywhere will continue to support this.

Gary Blanchard

Gold Beach

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