By Cory Dobbs, Ed.D., PVSchools

Few things hold the power to render a person invisible. Homelessness is one of them. As a homeless person confronts society’s perception of their worth, they experience a radical shift in their identity. They struggle with basic life questions such as who they are and what the future will bring.

There isn’t a person in the world who doesn’t want to be someone, to have significance and be considered worthy and valued by others. Everybody wants to be somebody.

“One day I was putting gas in my car when I witnessed a homeless man asking if he could wash car windows for money. People would yell at him and push him away.

As he walked towards me with his head down, I was expecting him to ask to wash my windows. I was going to say yes, but he kept walking. As he passed me, I asked if he could wash my windows and he said, ‘Yes.’ After he was done he started walking away, not even asking for money. This took me by surprise. But I felt he did a service and should be rewarded.

I called him over to pay him. His eyes opened wide and I could just see the joy on his face. I checked my wallet and all I had was a $10 bill. My first thought was ‘$10 for a simple window wash seems too much,’ but I looked at the bigger picture. Do I need that $10 more than he does? And my answer was no. I felt he needed it more than I did. So I gave it to him and he said that it was too much and he couldn’t accept it. But I insisted. The look on his face will be something I’ll never forget.”
–S.L., Student-Athlete

Almost everyone knows what it feels like to be accepted, connected, and liked—and what it feels like to be rejected, judged, and outside the group. When people feel disconnected, they feel a sense of worthlessness.

“He told me it would take about 2-3 days worth of washing windows to make $10 and was very grateful. He gave me a hug and I could see other people staring, but I didn’t mind. I helped the man out with what I could. As amazing as that felt, what happened after made me feel so much happier. People would go up to him and give him money without him doing anything. Some of them were the same people who were yelling at him. That’s when I realized sometimes all it takes is just one person to start something, and I could be that first person.”

To be a person of influence, you simply need to care about people. Everybody needs somebody to connect with and help them grow.

“I felt for that man. And even though I’ve never been homeless or put in the position he was in, I could relate to him.”

Everybody wants to be somebody. Today, take a long look at everyone you encounter and help them be the somebody they want to become. Once this becomes a fundamental way of viewing others you meet, you will become a person of influence.