By Jessie McCormick. Jessie works at Sasha Bruce Youthwork and is passionate about making resources such as education and health care available to homeless youth and young adults.

I worry that this is an epidemic of people,
not things..well, specifically, one thing.
What does being a homeless youth
look like to you?
Everyone talks about places
and spaces
and physical doors and locks,
which is all well and good,
but I think it’s more than that.
I think being a homeless youth is more
about being without people
than places.
Because if you are a young mother
and you’re on the street,
the State will snatch up your kiddos
when really, you need someone to snatch up you.
And when you’re on your own,
it’s usually because the people who are supposed to love you
no matter what or who you are
for whatever reason
didn’t. Couldn’t. Wouldn’t. Whatever.
If I did an experiment,
and left a dog on the side of the road-
no collar,
no leash,
no tag-
someone would snatch that dog up.
Maybe bring him home,
or bring him to a shelter who could.
Hang little tags approximating their age,
their personality, they like their tummy rubbed,
but don’t like loud noises or men
(which is, strangely, usually more accepted in dogs
than in humans, but that’s beside the point),
and find a new crew to love them.
We match them with new families,
because theirs didn’t work out,
and we call them ‘forever homes.’
Dogs deserve loving families.
Dogs deserve good food and clean water.
But if I took the dog
and replaced it with a human,
what happens?
“Excuse me, Ma’am?”
And y’all gonna rush away
and pretend like you ain’t hear.
We don’t assume that love for humans.
If we do, we send them to places of isolation.
It doesn’t take work to find out what side of town
the homeless shelter is on,
and they don’t get matched with new families
who can support them as they learn to love again,
as they rediscover what it is to be warm–
inside and out.
We assume they did something wrong
or made a bad choice-
something evidently worse
than chewing the drywall or messing the carpets.
I don’t know.
Is it creepy to sit across the table from a person you don’t know?
Is it easier for you to call a four-legged from another species
part of your family
than a stranger with two legs, a grateful heart, and a story?
We know how to take care of dogs,
but not of one another?
I don’t know.
I’m not saying it’s the answer,
because I don’t have one of those.
I’ve never been good at answers.
I just know that as one lone human,
who is thankful to now have a roof over her head,
I still feel incredibly lonely and isolated most days,
even though the “homeless” aspect, I suppose is…
Is that the right word?
And I’m not insinuating, friends, that we need to treat our dogs worse.
Rather, I think it is that we need to treat our humans better.
Peace to you. Regardless of how many legs you have.
I wish you that greatest gift of all:

Jessie McCormick with her canine friend, Koda. Here’s the story of how they met.

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