The Haves and Have Nots


“Hello and good day,” the homeless man said to me as I neared.

He was seated on a wooden rail near my parked car and he was leaning back, taking in the sunshine.

“Hello,” I responded back automatically.  “How are you today?”

Immediately, I regretted my choice of words.  This man was homeless and living in a shelter.  Asking “How are you today?,” in my upbeat, energetic style as I sipped from a disposable $2 bottle of water seemed like the wrong way to go.

How was he?   Errrr…….homeless, that’s how.

This past weekend, Jake and a group of high school youth from People to People Student Ambassadors were scheduled to volunteer at the Atlantic City Rescue Mission, working in the kitchen and in the warehouse of this amazing charity.

I was excited that Jake was having this opportunity, since this volunteer assignment involved working right at the shelter, with clients present.  Young people do not often have the opportunity to actually see the recipients of their volunteer work.  In fact, most volunteer experiences for youth keep them safely and comfortably removed from the problem that they are hoping to fix.  We often engage our children in fund raising and supply drives and while these undertakings are essential to the charities receiving the money or food or clothing that we gather, they also keep our children at a very wide berth from the people they are helping.

But at the shelter, the recipients of Jake’s efforts were present, indeed.  There were homeless clients in the parking lot, on the sidewalks, in the courtyards, and inside the building in the hallways and bathrooms.   Atlantic City has a serious homelessness problem, and many, many folk in need were taking advantage of the outstanding services available to them.

When we encourage our children to volunteer, most parents hope that we will instill a commitment to service and altruism in them that will last.  But we know that there are other lessons that get thrown in as well.

In our everyday life, it can be easy to forget to appreciate the things that we have.  If we are not careful, our life perspective can become focused on what is lacking in our lives, rather than what is abundant.  This is especially true at those times when life is stressful or feels unkind or unjust. During those times, the worry over the have and have nots can be hard to ignore.

But being in the presence of so many men and women who have so little and who are working hard to improve their lives was a serious lesson in perspective, the type of perspective that made my look down at my $2 water bottle and feel like an heiress.

“Hello and good day,” the homeless man said to me as I neared.

He was seated on a wooden rail near my parked car and he was leaning back, taking in the sunshine.

“Hello,” I responded back automatically.  “How are you today?”

The Rescue Mission’s client answered me without a shred of sarcasm.

“I am good and I am feeling very blessed so far today.  I have air in my lungs and the sun is shining.  I am feeling very blessed so far today.”

He smiled a big and genuine smile.  “And how are you?”


“I am feeling very blessed today too.”  As I said the words, I realized how true it was.

Looking back, I hope that the feeling stays with me long after our visit to the shelter fades into memory.

If not, I guess will just have to go back!


The Atlantic City Rescue Mission serves 600 to 700 meals daily, and is open 365 days a year.  They serve the poor and homeless community and they can provide shelter to 320 people. They offer extensive services to their clients, including workshops to prepare them for the work world, counseling on life issues, parenting classes, and if needed, literacy classes and addiction counseling.

They strive to solve the homelessness crisis, not only by providing food and shelter, but also by addressing the underlying problems that contribute to homelessness in the first place and by sharing a faith based approach to life’s difficulties.

The Atlantic City Rescue Mission needs all kinds of help.  They need monetary donations and donations of many types of items.  And they also need donations of time, because there’s a lot of work involved in keeping an operation of this scale up and running.

See their website below  to learn how you or your group can help.


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About Lisa

Lisa has two active blogs on Wordpress. Views from the RoofTop started as a blog space to share about crafting and using repurposed materials to make useful housewares and about my craft shop's mascot, RoofTop Chalie, the repurposed racing greyhound. It has evolved into a space to also share about the things in life that intrigue and inspire me. GAMES GAMES GAMES started because people asked Lisa to share many of the silly and fun games that are staples at her holiday parties.
This entry was posted in Atlantic city, kindness and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Haves and Have Nots

  1. says:

    Beautiful Lisa, so proud of Jake, your Family is a Blessing to know. Write those stories I love them.


  2. Barb Emmons says:

    Excellent story! I love it when I’m reminded how very blessed I am. Thank you to Jake for being such a caring person and thank you for sharing this story.

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