With the homeless on Nicollet Avenue

Those living in poverty use positivity to ignite change.

by Candice Wheeler

In Minnesota alone, more than 13,000 people are homeless on any given night.
The University of Minnesota student group âÄúBlessed Are the PoorâÄù collects donated food from Coffman Union and distributes it to the homeless each Saturday on Nicollet Avenue. Their mission revolves around establishing long-term relationships with those in need. The group embraces equality and recognizes that each person facing financial hardship has a voice âÄî some just have bad luck.
Those living with homelessness along the 10-block stretch have formed a community that fuels off survival. They have a connection, not subjected by race or any other demographic, but by the unifying qualities of poverty and struggle. A lot of people in this world donâÄôt get along, but when in this type of situation, everybody gets along with everybody.
Once homelessness begins to settle in as a lifestyle, many resort to drugs and alcohol to escape the severity of their plight. Karl White, a senior who stays at the homeless shelter in downtown Minneapolis, is thankful he never fell short to substance abuse, even though living on the streets did a lot to him mentally.
White cannot believe the amount of people âÄî families in particular âÄî that he sees out on the streets. âÄúYou have to be a strong-minded person in this situation,âÄù White said. âÄúIt will eat you up alive if youâÄôre not.âÄù
Staying focused on change is necessary to overcome homelessness. âÄúChange comes from within you,âÄù according to White, who makes optimism a way of life. White exposed the realness of life without making excuses or sugar coating the reality of living in poverty.
Hearing WhiteâÄôs story, as well as other fights against homelessness, did nothing but humble me. Everyone I spoke with expressed a strong sense of gratitude for life, even when in the worst situations. I found that the only way to overcome conflict in life is to always keep your head up and stay positively focused.