If you haven't yet seen "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" it's time to get out from under the rock you so obviously live beneath and tune into ABC on Sunday nights. Dan and I have been recording them so we can fast forward through the commercials, and tonight we watched one as we munched Hamburger Helper. Just the theme music from that show makes me cry. What some of these people go through is just incredible. Death, cancer, disease, extreme allergies, fire, flood...you name it. I've noticed this season that the houses aren't quite as over-the-top as they were the first season, but I don't see any of those families complaining. And frankly, I'm glad they've scaled down some of the projects a bit, especially given some of the neighborhoods these people are in. I remember the Sweet Alice episode and thinking, "Will they include a security guard in the package for that poor old woman?! She's living in Watts, for crying out loud!!"
Tonight we watched last week's two part episode with the two homeless families in Denver, and as always, it just broke my heart. Someone on the design team made the comment that the experience really changed their view of what "homeless people" were, because you tend to think alcoholic, drug addict, deadbeat, etc., but here were two families who found themselves on the streets through no fault of their own. And I felt sooooo convicted, because how many times have I thought, "If they'd just laid off the booze, they wouldn't be there," and never stopped to think that perhaps they got laid-off with no savings in the bank. As one of the other people at the homeless shelter said, "Most of America is two weeks away from being homeless," and when I checked out our account balances this evening, I realized just how little it would take to send us into the red.
(An aside: as I typed that "If they'd just laid off the booze" comment, I realized that that's no excuse for their homelessness, either. What put them on it in the first place? Abuse? Mental illness? Can I blame them for that? Heck no! So really there isn't anyone I should think of as having "earned" their homelessness.)
So here's what I'm thinking. There are currently 295,540,624 in America. Let's assume that 3/4 of them have a buck to spare. That would be $221,665,468. Surely with that much money we could get some systems in place to take care of these folks, detox them and medicate them and shelter and feed and clothe them and help them get back on their feet. I'm not saying we build them each a house, I'm just saying we make it possible for them to focus their energy on something other than where their next meal is coming from or whether or not they'll get attacked while they sleep in the park tonight.
So is this ever going to happen? Probably not, although those stories of "13 year old starts campaign to help the homeless and raises $1 Million" do pop up every now and then, and one would think that a 29 year old would be able to figure out something even more lucrative than that 13 year old did. But doesn't it kinda make you wonder when you realize how much we could do if everyone just donated their toll change or coffee money or spare change from their sofa JUST ONCE to one giant fund? Any fund, really. Cancer research, tsunami relief, busting drug rings and child trade rings and who knows what else. What if we set up a yearly fund, and each year we all gave one dollar to the same charity. Holy freaking cow, can you imagine the difference we could make? Imagine telling the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, "Here's $221, 665, 468--go do some research." And then the next year telling Habitat for Humanity, "Go build some houses." Wow.
Well that's one soapbox I didn't expect to step on tonight. Just thought I'd write a little post singing the praises of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and here I am waxing visionary. Let me know if you have any ideas on how to start that Giant Rotating Fund....
And so we come to the end…
4 months ago