Saturday, October 9, 2010

Six Degrees from Homeless

Many of the working poor are just a few paychecks away from homelessness. Those with savings can last a little longer. Have you given thought to how long you would last if you lost your income and had no other source of money? I would be able to survive about two months on my savings, and I have very few bills. If it was so bad and we had to dip into our retirement account we could go another three months maybe, if we really economized.

Now, take a moment to think of those on public assistance. Their children can get free lunch at school, some of them receive medicaid to help with doctor visits, a very few receive cash assistance or housing help. How far can they get before things turn bad?

So many people become homeless through no fault of their own, a dispute with a family member, the loss of a job, an illness... The reasons, or circumstances are endless.

Lately, there's been many mentions of the homeless in the news. With the recession still going strong, despite what our government is telling us, and homeowners still facing foreclosures it is a growing reality.

Once again, while working, the headlines came to greet me. A young girl approached the counter and asked if she could borrow my phone to call her daddy. As soon as she got that first sentence out she burst into tears. She said she was fourteen years old and her mother had just kicked her out and she was scared.

My heart broke, what could I do? I kept an eye on her and made sure it was her father that picked her up. Of course, I don't know the entire story. You actually see a lot when you work with the public.

So many people have lost the ability to imagine. They are unable to put themselves in another persons shoes. Keep your compassion well exercised and remember to daydream often so you can see another point of view.


  1. I have the feeling that God has put you precisely where you are needed to do His work.

    Those who sit in your circle, whether they realize it or not, are very blessed.

    Mother Connie

  2. And often we don't see homelessness for what it is--the breaking of the safety net. Or we think it doesn't happen "here"--only in big cities and to folks who are "all" alcoholics or druggies. Yeah, right. Homelessness means bunking on your sibling's couch because you have nowhere else to go--and then praying that she and her husband don't start arguing about "how long is your brother going to be here?" It is swallowing your pride and moving into your old bedroom back home--even if you're 60--and being treated like a kid again by your folks. It is the girl calling her dad, crying, saying "mom kicked me out" and desperately hoping that dad doesn't say "tough luck."

    Homeless is all around us. Many of us are not even a few paychecks away, but one paycheck, or one last chance with the spouse, or hoping your friends don't get tired of you couch surfing "just one more night."

    Great post.

  3. April, I imagine with your work you see a lot more of this than I do.

  4. I just made a post called "One Disaster Away" and I realize that that is pretty much all it takes for any one of us to be homeless, if you're the working poor.

  5. Sandy, I read that post! While it's a very sad story, it's also wonderful how you and fellow co-workers have banded together to care for him. I'm sure he realizes even in the midst of the pain he is going through just how lucky he is to have worked with you.

  6. He's not doing so well now, and the job is falling on me to have a candid conversation with him on Friday. I know that WE feel blessed to have worked with him. He's really a nice man.