Residents Maintain Religious Convictions

Sophia Lee is a Sophomore at the University of Florida. She chose to explore the topic of religion in the homeless shelter during her experience at WWFF11.

Photo by Hilary Coles

When I first spotted David Lee in the cafeteria, I was pretty intimidated. He had two tattoos winding around his bulging biceps, a huge stature, and a deep, booming voice that made heads turn. So obviously, I drew myself up to my full height of 5’1’’ and asked him if I could sit with him at dinner. The first thing he did was get up to find me a chair to sit in and I immediately knew my judgments were wrong.

We chitchatted away, talking about everything from how he ended up at the shelter to how he met his wife to his religion. He seemed very eager to have somebody to talk to and listened intently whenever I opened my mouth. The entire time he was speaking, I only had one thought running through my mind: “Wow, this guy is so…normal.

I realize how wrong this sounds. I also realize it makes me a hypocrite for scolding other people for casting stereotypes on the homeless.  It’s so typical to think of the homeless as people who are mentally ill, dirty, and uneducated when many times that’s not the case at all.

After a few minutes, I realized that David Lee is not just “normal,” he’s an absolutely incredible individual. He moved me with his strength and unshakeable faith. At one point in life, he had everything –  a home, a family, a job. He lost everything in an instant all because of one knee surgery that he couldn’t afford.

When I imagine myself in the same situation, I know that I wouldn’t be able to smile so brightly or be brave enough to spill my life story to a stranger the way that David did.

– Sophia Lee, University of Florida

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