I helped out a few times this year at an emergency weather shelter. I was working an overnight shift in the kitchen when a couple in their 20s came in. I got them some food while they got settled. After a while, the guy came to me with a water bottle and asked if I could clean it out for “his lady” since there was a line for the one indoor restroom and sink.
I agreed and took it back to the sink. Right away I noticed that it was the exact same kind of water bottle I give to my eight-year-old daughter at soccer practice and games. I looked under the cap and it definitely hadn’t seen soap and water in a while. So I grabbed a bottle brush and cleaned it just as I would have for my own kid, and thought about having to give up the ability to get my things clean, to get my children’s things clean. To have to rinse this grimy water bottle in a grimy bathroom sink.
It means a lot more than comfort and health. It means the little habits that make up our identity and self-worth. I think about that water bottle a lot these days. Giving people some basic humanity is an important part of setting them up for success in having the kind of life they want.
If you know someone who might like this, please click “Share!”