Success story masks bigger issue

January 14, 2011 Commentary Print Print

Nearly two weeks ago, Ted Williams was an ordinary homeless person begging for money on the streets of Columbus, Ohio, when a Columbus Dispatch videographer found the man with the “Golden Homeless Voice.”

After the Columbus Dispatch video went online, Williams found himself showered with a variety of offers for his talents ranging from NFL Films, MSNBC, MTV, to the NBA’s own Cleveland Cavaliers offering Williams a two-year contract with mortgage payments for housing.

I am not chiding the previous down-on-his-luck Williams for getting into a bidding war with various media outlets for his talents.

It certainly is a feel-good story designed to give readers fuzzy feelings in the inside of their stomachs.

However, Williams’ situation raises questions about a much broader issue.

While America should give itself a nice big pat on the back for helping one homeless person get a job and nationwide fame, it feels as if the other 600,000 or so homeless people don’t deserve that kind of attention.

Many homeless people do not share the same checkered past as Ted Williams. They are our friends, family, and colleagues.

There are homeless students attending OCCC who have gotten themselves into circumstances beyond their control. These students are working toward better lives for their families and themselves.

While Student Support Services and our own faculty do as much as they possibly can to help OCCC students, at the end of the day everyone could still be doing more to help alleviate homelessness.

There are possible solutions that, with the proper funding from the state of Oklahoma and OCCC alumni, could help ease these problems on campus.

OCCC could offer free lunches and childcare for students or students with children who claimed homelessness on their FAFSA forms.

In an ideal world it would be wonderful for alumni donations to help fund a small dorm or shelter on or near campus for those students and their families who are without residence.

While OCCC is a commuter college, we are the fourth largest college in Oklahoma.

And if students know of anyone who is homeless or living in a shelter, please try to provide them with clothing, blankets, or a meal — anything that could help them get through an obviously trying time in their lives.

These suggestions are only possible small solutions to an overall larger problem.

There are just as many talented individuals on campus at OCCC as there are on the streets of Columbus, Ohio. It is a shame they do not have a videographer to make them seen and heard.

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