Bethany Smith has always had a heart for serving others, but when a friend told her about the SVdP program at Duquesne University that helps the homeless, she got a chance to put that to work.
Arian Hajihassani decided to focus his career after school on cancer research to help persons with the same disease that afflicted his mother. But while he tends to his studies with that goal in mind, he also fulfills his innate desire to help others by tending to the homeless within his local community.
Each Sunday night these co-presidents of the SVdP program, along with their fellow students who volunteer to participate, venture into the world of the homeless in Pittsburgh’s downtown area.
Bethany and Arian have found that they have been inspired by the long standing SVdP program in this area. Bethany says it “has opened my eyes to the experience of homelessness and the various struggles that they face”. Through his experience, Arian has come to understand “how homelessness removes opportunities for the basic things most of us all enjoy and take for granted”; a roof over our heads and a bed to sleep in, for sure. But also, the chance for adequate medical care, money to buy things we need, personal hygiene items, simple food needs, and even to be treated in a civil and humane manner by others. They have come to see these people as fellow human beings who most often suffer from circumstances beyond their control.
Arian says that his faith has reinforced his sense that he has been “called to do this”. He notes that the Bible points us to do such things and that the words and actions of Jesus direct us to help the needy. Bethany says that aiding the homeless has brought her closer to Jesus as she encounters Him in each person they serve. And these students are often moved by the faith of the needy who often ask if they can pray for the students who help them.
The SVdP program is sustained solely by its means of support through Duquesne University. However, Bethany and Arian feel that, in a better world, more people would come to see the many homeless and their needs more clearly. Their hope is that, in doing so, people would be moved to help this ministry further through donations from beyond the limited resources of the school.
So, each Sunday night, give some thought and prayer for all the homeless and for those students who venture out to provide them with a little help and a lot of love. Maybe we will all be inspired by their example!