Empowered By Orange County United Way

Myth#5: Homelessness Isn’t My Problem

Author: Brian Peterson, Founder, Faces of Santa Ana

So often you hear the words, “Homelessness isn’t my problem.” In my experience, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Four years ago, my wife Vanessa and I moved to Santa Ana with a mission in loving our neighbors unconditionally and sacrificially.

Each night, I would sit on our living room sofa reading a book, “Love Does.”

That book’s message came into action when one evening, I heard through our apartment window the screams from a man who was experiencing homelessness.

His agony gripped my heart.

I realized, “This man is my neighbor and I am called to love him.”

I shared with Vanessa that we needed to find out this man’s name.

Two days later, returning from work, I found this man.

I sat next to him on the sidewalk and had my first conversation with one of my neighbors experiencing homelessness.

I saw beauty in his pain, glimmers of hope in his eyes.

Up until this point, I hadn’t painted in eight years.

My heart asked him, “Would it be OK if I painted your portrait?”

From there, Faces of Santa Ana was born.

Faces of Santa Ana is a passion project where we set out to befriend and paint portraits of the homeless community in Santa Ana. We then sell the artwork and use the proceeds to help in rehabilitating our newfound friends. Our mission is to locally help those in need in cities around the world while also inspiring and activating creatives and supporters of the movement.

This project continues to teach me and others about unconditional and sacrificial love.

Homelessness near my home does not me push me away. I have found great satisfaction and learned much about myself and others while helping those in need.

I personally believe that when we live in a city, we have the ability and responsibility to care for that city and its people.

As I have painted the homeless the last five years, the homeless actually haven’t been my problem – they’ve been my blessing.

My heart has been transformed by walking through life with them, in the good and bad times. For me to say that homelessness is not my problem means I would literally have to undo all the positive changes that have happened in my heart in the last five years.

I encourage people now a days to run after and support people who are most unlike you because it creates an opportunity to make a change within.