Letter: The Good Always Comes With The Bad

Along with the comfort of routine, also comes the negative. Until a few years ago, on a personal level, I would have never known that Royal Palm Beach, Wellington, and even The Acreage, Loxahatchee and Loxahatchee Groves, has its own homeless, suffering, population.

That population isn’t only homeless, it has become incredibly poor, and it is struggling for daily survival. They are suffering from mental anguish, familial destruction, mental illness, disability, as well as all of the other ills of modern society, such as drug and alcohol addiction. Some of these individuals actually come from families who would be considered “good” and “wealthy,” where the family has given up and left these family members on their own.

While meeting with friends at places such as a restaurant located at Seminole Pratt and Orange, back five years ago and more, I discovered that there were homeless people living in even small strands of trees in the parking lot. Mostly, they were men.

It wasn’t until I began frequenting some places in Royal Palm Beach, that I discovered the problem was much wider than that, and that our western communities actually had a much larger problem of not only homeless, but homeless, addicted and mostly younger population. By younger, I mean younger than I. Not only men, but women, although predominately men. When I say young, I have to say it means individuals as young as 16 (one of whom I met today), but mostly in their 30s and 40s, some younger, some older, but all suffering.

Having lived here since 1980, and seeing the changes, when I really began to look, it actually shocked me. In these last few years, I have seen a woman overdose and die in a parking lot, have seen a woman overdose and survive at a table, have known a man who overdosed in the Burger King parking lot, have known a man who was disabled who died holding a sign for a local business on the corner of Okeechobee and Royal Palm Beach boulevards.

What I also see, on a daily basis, are old and young people who are self-medicating, all right here in our local communities. It is shocking to me. They are of all races and genders, as well as of all ages. While they may not be considered a part of “mainstream society,” ultimately they are, and they are “us,” or at least of “us.”

I don’t have the answers to solve the ills of today, but when I can, I try to help. I have seen at least two individuals who have picked themselves up, rid themselves of addiction, and one who is doing things as simple as feeding squirrels and sparrows. Communing with nature actually can be an answer. I would never have imagined that I could help, in even such a small way as to listen, and listening helps.

Listening doesn’t always work, and sometimes I have become afraid of those who I have met. They can suddenly become angry, aggressive and even sometimes violent, although thankfully I have never ultimately been their target. During these times, I feel almost helpless, but realize that tomorrow will be a new day for them, where trying again to help might actually help.

I try not to judge and realize that the good I see also comes with the bad. Every day, I just try to do what I can to make it better. I hope you all do, too. Don’t give up. I haven’t. These are our neighbors. What we do can make a difference.

Patricia D. Curry, The Acreage