There is an old saying that you can learn a lot about someone by how they treat people they do not need to necessarily treat well. For a community like Marshall, that maxim can be interpreted by how it treats its homeless.
For years, we've acknowledged the homeless living in camps outside of our community and, a part from some individuals and church groups, we've ignored them but because it represents "too big of a problem."
The first step towards helping is instead of passing these people by and ignoring them, we recognize them. Due to the recent fire at the I-20 homeless camps, the collective attention of the city has been turned to the homeless; the first box has been checked.
But next comes action.
The Marshall Housing Authority the North East Texas Homeless Consortium recently announced they would be counting the area's homeless population in order to accurately depict Marshall's need. With that accurate picture the housing authority hopes it will be able to convince the Department of Veterans Affairs and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to aid in homeless assistance within the Marshall area.
In addition to performing a head count, these organizations will also outfit the homeless with supplies such as hygiene items, gloves, socks, hats, protein bars, journals, pens, Bibles and hand warmer sticks, blankets and coats.
This is a good start and we applaud the Marshall Housing Authority for going beyond the first step, but we are concerned with what happens next.
We are East Texans, a group of people that readily displays its commitment to God, country and virtue. We have also just come out of the season of giving where donations were plentiful. If anyone is equipped to help our homeless, our fellow residents, it's us. If anyone can build a shelter or organize aid, it's us.
Time will tell how Marshall decides to treat its homeless. We pray that the city, its residents and its benevolent organizations treat them as a people and not a problem or a statistic.