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  • Writer's pictureDr. Lisa Gonzales

I Walked the Kids to School Today - The World is Our Classroom

Had a little free time this morning so I walked the girls to school. No, the picture isn't of me. But it is of another twin mom who clearly had more time to get ready for that fateful walk down the streets in the neighborhood (thanks Sarah Jessica Parker).

As our steps through the neighborhood wound their way to Horace Mann School in downtown San Jose, the girls and I encountered the typical hustle and bustle of a large urban area....buses whooshing by, dried leaves crunching below our feet, trash carelessly discarded, city workers landscaping our local park, and more than one transient.

The girls have only lived in an urban area, a city that has had its share of homeless issues over the years. With skyrocketing rental and housing prices, I can only imagine how many more of our residents will take to the streets.

As we continued our mile long trek, I reminded the girls about the importance of saying hello to those who sleep on the street, those who are transients, those whose faces and shopping carts give the impression that they might be a little more down on their luck than the average person. "Yeah Mom, we know. We might be the only person who takes the time to say hello to them today."

I think they've got it.

I started talking to the homeless and transients when I was in a sorority at San Jose State back in the 1980s. Call it karma. Or call it putting chits in the bank account that you might need to call on some day. I believe, with the knowledge of many of those I see that I've said hi to in downtown for years, if I was in a compromising position, that karma would come back and somehow assist.

The girls asked about Loren. He's a homeless man that I've been talking to on morning runs with my teammates for years. He sleeps on the same cement strip under an overpass that he has since...well, as long as I can remember. My day is always a little brighter when we run by and I'm able to converse, ever so briefly, with Loren.

And then there's Paul. I met Paul out on a midday walk last week. He had one of those faces - the kind that is missing many teeth but when his smile shines, it lights up the earth. Paul and I compared ages and he was right: his 74 years had me beat. He wished me well and waved goodbye. What a wonderful human connection.

As we approached school, the girls shared their interactions with Maritza. She's a "special needs person" as they like to refer to, a woman who lives somewhere near their school, a good 80+ in years with dark skin that's seen its share of the outdoors, sunken cheekbones, and no teeth.

They shared many conversations with Maritza....and I concluded that they are their mother's children. They are appreciating and interacting with people, regardless of their walk in life. And can't we all do a bit more to make the world a better place to live?

Every day is a fresh start. Every day makes a difference. Try it.

*Article published on my LinkedIn page on October 20, 2015. Photo from

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