Invisible People

Home sweet home!

I survived one night in a Samsung refrigerator box on the corner of Chester and Neil in Champaign.  I had a great time hanging out with the guys on my corner and friends that stopped by.  I shot some video of the event and helped raise some donations from people passing by.

Around 10:30 or 11:00 I climbed into my cardboard home for the night.  I didn’t sleep well, if at all.  It was cold and long, both of which I expected, but it was also loud.  An 8th of an inch of cardboard doesn’t block out noise at all, so every footstep, every horn, every siren I could hear as if I was still standing on the street corner. I could also hear every conversation of every person who walked by on the street.

Sleeping quarters

One of the guys at breakfast this morning said it best when he said he felt invisible.  I remember hearing someone who was leaving a bar around 2:00AM exclaiming, “What? Are there people in all these boxes?!”

On my drive home I realized that we treat so many people that way in our lives.  We just brush by them like they are invisible, rarely if ever taking the time to realize that they are people too.

I had a great conversation with a couple of homeless guys at breakfast this morning that had joined our group for the night.  They covered everything from where to get the best eggs in town, what bars would let homeless people in for free water and restrooms, to how they’ve managed to survive this terrible winter.

Food, water, shelter, clothing.  Their challenges are not so different than my own.  I’m thankful that I was given the opportunity to see them as real people, rather than invisible.

I made it!

I also wouldn’t want to wish that night’s sleep on anyone. It’s great to be back in my warm, comfortable house, and as the forecast for the next week is headed down to zero again, I’ll be thinking of my newfound friends who don’t have anywhere permanent to call home.

If you are interested in more information about the homeless in Champaign, get connected with CU at Home.

2 Replies to “Invisible People”

  1. What a great concept. I’m sure that one night in a good box with the bring-your-best-sleeping bag does not come close to comparing to a life like that. I’m sure, though, that the experience brought new insight. I’m sure that the homeless that you spoke to were delighted that you chose to see them.

    I am going to share this page on my FB.

    God Bless.

    1. Thanks Ed. Yes I realize it’s not quite the same. We had a couple ‘real’ homeless guys who spent the night with us, and they didn’t use boxes. We talked about survival and they seriously doubted our turnout would have been as good if it’d been zero degrees. I’ll never look at a weather forecast quite the same, thinking about all the people who have to battle the elements every single day with only what they can carry on their backs.

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