Understanding Society

SUSI scholars huddled under a tree for shade

A few failures have started for a certain guy. He has no money, no job and his family is sinking into poverty. After his wife leaves him, he loses his apartment and joins the homeless. He lives in a shelter with his son.

This is the plot of the movie “Pursuit of Happyness,” inspired by the true story of Chris Gardner, who is a well-known businessman, stockbroker and investor. Because of this movie, I understood the concept of shelters. Thank you, Will Smith.  

Today, we (SUSI Scholars) visited Central Arizona Shelter Services (CASS). CASS, serving as an emergency homeless shelter, operates at full capacity 24/7, 365 days of the year. They provide an opportunity for 470 people to sleep each night but worry about the increasing number of homeless people.  

“Not only a bed, we also help people transform their lives, find a job and a chance at a new life,” said Community Outreach Coordinator Lindsey James. She has worked here almost two years and is always happy for her team’s work, and very proud of them. “Humanized service suits our personality,”’ she noted.  

Donations are the most important thing at CASS. The U.S Government, companies and even individuals donate and support them. For example, Amazon recently gave them thousands of socks. And when we arrived, homeless people were walking around and one neatly dressed man gave them slices of pizza. Individuals also help as much as they can.  

SUSI Scholars also gave a little of our labor. We sorted and hung several bags of clothes. We worked fast and enthusiastically and felt the value of volunteering. It was a memorable journey that allowed me, us, to see and understand another side of American society. 

After writing this post, I looked out the window. In Phoenix, the sun is blazing as usual, and only a few people are walking in the street at over 40 degrees Centigrade. Some of them are homeless. This is not just an issue for Phoenix or the U.S.. It’s a global issue. But how many of them can manage to become like Chris Gardner or just live like a normal person? 

A video recap of the day