Under the Overpass by Mike Yankoski

When I see a man or woman living on the streets, I feel this immediate, intense battle happening inside of me. My first reaction – like most people – is to ignore them, but there is this intensity inside of me to answer the problem. Clearly, there is csome discomfort when a stranger is panhandling but a sense of superiority instinctually flows through me.

“He must be a drunk. She is obviously high or trying to get high. Why don’t they go over to the shelter or church? A shelter will do a lot better than the change in my pocket.”

But over the years, I have learned a lot about the realities of homelessness in America. The problem cannot be defined neatly in a short sentence. It is a complicated issue with numerous causes and zero quick fixes.

Though we all may have different experiences with homelessness, in the end a homeless person is a person. He or she is a loved child of our Creator. And that’s the other side of the battle inside of me.

“How do I help this man? Will giving him a couple of dollars help? Am I really doing the right thing? Where can I do more?”

A couple of college students had this same question. Instead of sitting in class trying to understand the economics of homelessness in America or sitting through another sermon about feeding the poor, these two men set out to experience the other side. Under the Overpass chronicles Mike Yankoski and his friend’s experience living on the streets of America. They spent six months in six different cities, spending a month in each major city. Normal activities that society rarely ever thinks about like eating, sleeping, or defecating became major challenges.

This journey really shows you the personal side of homelessness. When I think of the homelessness, I usually think of no shelter and money, but seldom do I think a lack of relationships or love. What shocked me the most about this book was Yankoski’s apparent lightheartedness. Though he took the matter very seriously and it was definitely not an easy experience, he did appear to portray this aura of freedom. He didn’t have to rush to class or a meeting; life had an unusually different pace. I don’t think he was trying to communicate that in the book, but it was something I noticed.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in how we can help the poor and needy within our own borders.