California Baptist University students and the local homeless share experiences of both working with and being homeless.
The 2012 Annual Homeless Assessment Report ranked Riverside third in nationwide counties with the largest population of homeless.
CBU is currently involved with helping the homeless in Riverside. Through the Compassion Ministries students can get involved. Kevin Cotton, senior mathematics major is CBU’s homeless outreach coordinator.
Cotton said on Tuesdays, volunteers drive along local bus routes and serve meals to the homeless. Cotton said students also crochet hats and headbands for the homeless during the upcoming cold season to help them stay warm.
For those who are not involved Cotton suggested greeting the homeless and trying to give information on available resources.
“The ones who aren’t seen are really the ones who need the help,” said Eleno Puente, veterans homeless outreach worker from Homeless/Housing opportunities, Partnership & Education.
“Talk!” said George, a formerly homeless man seen panhandling outside a local 7-Eleven store. “Don’t just walk by like we don’t exist.”
George was homeless for eight months in 2011. He explained it hurts more to be ignored than to be spit on or lied to.
Although he now resides in a local apartment complex, George still struggles to get work and food and finds himself back in his habit of panhandling.
“When the sun was going down we would start to look for a place, pass out, then life was pretty much on repeat,” said Richard Roberts, 21, who was formerly homeless. Roberts and a friend were forced to live out of a car in 2010.
Roberts said compassion will help the homeless.
“Just try to understand what that person is going through,” he said.
Homeless people are in need of encouragement, a listening ear when troubled and a bit of guidance.
There are many ways that people can help the homeless, but the one that was proposed the most was to talk, offer a sense of companionship and offer help when they feel it is needed or requested.