Union Rescue Mission - Language
At the Ideation Conference last week I had the chance to see Andy Bales speak. Andy is the CEO of the Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles, the largest rescue mission of its kind in the country. Before moving to the Union Rescue Mission, Andy was one of the pastors at our church.
As one of the youth leaders, I got to know two of Andys sons. Ill never forget taking a group of 20 middle school kids out to feed folks who were homeless in Pasadena. While most of the middle schoolers were pretty timid in their conversations with folks who were homeless, guess which kid felt immediately comfortable more comfortable than most of our adult leaders? Yup Andy and Bonnies son.
The goal of the Union Rescue Mission is to end Los Angeles embarrassing (according to Andy) claim of being the homeless capital of the world. In his 15 minute talk, Andy made an important point about the language we use to refer to homeless. He said that we should never use the phrase the homeless. Instead, we should refer to folks as people who are experiencing homelessness.
I learned the same important language shift from World Vision, who when we wrote a 30 Hour Famine Curriculum in partnership with them, asked us to not say the poor but say people who are poor or people who are experiencing poverty.
Why is this shift in language so important? First, it reminds us that others are PEOPLE. Second, it doesnt define them completely as folks who are poor or homeless but rather as people who experiencing a (hopefully somewhat temporary) state of poverty or homelessness.
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