Posts Tagged ‘Mental Health Awareness’

Meet Sophie…

 

Today’s post is part of the annual A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. Each day of April (except Sunday,) we write a post corresponding with that day’s letter of the alphabet. For more information on the challenge and its creator visit:

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com

a-z 2015 S

My theme for this years’ A-Z Challenge is An Intimate Look at the Homeless and Mental Health Epidemic in America which just happens to be the subtitle of my next book, The Stranger in My Recliner. The book is the true story of Sophie.  She was the eighty-year-old homeless woman that my husband brought home one night. She lived with us for nearly three –years. The book will be out this fall.

Meet Sophie…

Sophie Book Sophie in the blue recliner

She was so mad at me that day for taking her picture. She loved to take photos but never wanted to be in them.

Thank you for visiting,

Doreen

I’m one of Lisa’s Live Wires! Lisa is a challenge co-host Lisa Buie-Collard

A-Z 2015 Minion Badge

My fellow live wires:

Rhonda Albom –   Bob R. Milne –   Tamera Narayan –  Stephanie Faris –   Heather McCubbin –   Randi Lee

the Recliner…

Today’s post is part of the annual A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. Each day of April (except Sunday,) we write a post corresponding with that day’s letter of the alphabet. For more information on the challenge and its creator visit:

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com

a-z 2015 R

My theme for this years’ A-Z Challenge is An Intimate Look at the Homeless and Mental Health Epidemic in America which just happens to be the subtitle of my next book, The Stranger in My Recliner. The book is the true story of Sophie.  She was the eighty-year-old homeless woman that my husband brought home one night. She lived with us for nearly three –years. The book will be out this fall.

I’ve fallen a bit behind in the challenge, hoping to be all caught up by tonight.

the Recliner

Definition- an armchair that reclines. A backrest that can be tilted back while at the same time the foot rest rises.

My mother-in-law had two pretty chairs in our living room. She told me she wanted her daughter Pat to have those chairs when the time came. Pat only took one of the chairs and she is so sweet she felt like she should give us a replacement chair. When the powder blue recliner arrived, I wasn’t a big fan. I never liked recliners. They are bulky for some reason they always look messy to me. They also remind me of my grandfather. No one was allowed to sit in his ‘chair’ and believe me no one wanted to because it smelled like stale nasty cigar smoke. Sophie on the other hand was delighted and quickly claimed it as her own. I was just fine with that until I peeked to see what she was keeping in the side pockets…

Blue recliner

I’m one of Lisa’s Live Wires! Lisa is a challenge co-host Lisa Buie-Collard

A-Z 2015 Minion Badge

My fellow live wires:

Rhonda Albom –   Bob R. Milne –   Tamera Narayan –  Stephanie Faris –   Heather McCubbin –   Randi Lee

Quiet Rooms…

Today’s post is part of the annual A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. Each day of April (except Sunday,) we write a post corresponding with that day’s letter of the alphabet. For more information on the challenge and its creator visit:

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com

a-z 2015 Q

My theme for this years’ A-Z Challenge is An Intimate Look at the Homeless and Mental Health Epidemic in America which just happens to be the subtitle of my next book, The Stranger in My Recliner. The book is the true story of Sophie.  She was the eighty-year-old homeless woman that my husband brought home one night. She lived with us for nearly three –years. The book will be out this fall.

QUIET ROOM

I once told Sophie I just wanted to go up into my quiet room and relax. She told me she hated quiet rooms. Knowing the answer would probably rip my heart out I asked, “why?”

“When that girl beat me up and took all my Elvis collectibles, I asked the manager of the storage place to call the police. She called the police and they took me to the hospital. The officer and the hospital staff did not believe I was beat up because the woman at the storage place told them I was nuts. The cop wouldn’t let me take my stuff.  My grocery bags had everything I owned in them.

Because I was screaming and in pain the nurse in the emergency room sent me to the mental health ward. I kept telling them I was hurt. They put me in a straightjacket and put me in the quiet room. They told me someone would let me out soon. I was in there for twenty-four hours. I peed all over myself and couldn’t talk or see from crying so much. I was more terrified than I was of the junkies in the woods.

My back and my arm hurt so badly.

The next day they told me I could go. I walked out of the hospital wearing wet clothes and it was so cold. I walked to McDonalds to get a burger and some water and went back to the woods.”

The time patients are kept in ‘the quiet room’ or ‘the padded cell’ varies but it could be several days. This is still a common occurrence in America.

WTH

Thank you for reading,

Doreen

I’m one of Lisa’s Live Wires! Lisa is a challenge co-host Lisa Buie-Collard

A-Z 2015 Minion Badge

My fellow live wires:

Rhonda Albom –   Bob R. Milne –   Tamera Narayan –  Stephanie Faris –   Heather McCubbin –   Randi Lee

 

Organizations that refer to organizations…

 

Today’s post is part of the annual A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. Each day of April (except Sunday,) we write a post corresponding with that day’s letter of the alphabet. For more information on the challenge and its creator visit:

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com

a-z 2015 O

My theme for this years’ A-Z Challenge is An Intimate Look at the Homeless and Mental Health Epidemic in America which just happens to be the subtitle of my next book, The Stranger in My Recliner. The book is the true story of Sophie.  She was the eighty-year-old homeless woman that my husband brought home one night. She lived with us for nearly three –years. The book will be out this fall.

Organizations that refer to other organizations

When my husband brought Sophie home I was sure the following day I would be able to find an organization that provided homes for homeless people. It seemed like someone was always collecting money and food for the homeless so I thought it would be a snap.

The first place I called was the Assistance Office. It took three-days to actually speak with a human being. The human being told me because we took Sophie into our home she was no longer considered homeless. Three weeks later he offered fifteen-dollars a month in food stamps and in order to receive those I would be required to sign ‘landlord’ paperwork.

I was so upset I decided to call our congressman’s office. From them I got an e-mail with a list of resources for the homeless. One was the assistance office then the social security office, county organization on aging and a list of shelters.

City Team- For adult men. You need photo ID to stay there. After five-nights they charge five-dollars a night.

Life Center of Eastern Delaware County:  The evening meal program is open to the public and anyone who is hungry can come here to eat.  Thanks to over 40 churches, synagogues, and temples, over 200 meals are served every evening, from 7-8 p.m.  A community shower program is also available every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10 am to 2 pm.  Shelter residents receive multiple services, including:

Aids Coalition: testing and counseling every first and third Mondays from 6 – 8 pm

A.A Meetings:  Thursdays 4-6 pm & Saturdays 12 – 1:30 pm

N.A. Meetings:  Sundays 10:30 to 12:30 pm

Life Skills classes on Tuesdays from 2-3:30 each week.

The Life Center also hosts two health clinics, one in the spring and one in the fall, that are open to the public. Nurses from the University of Penn conduct the clinics.

Wesley House Emergency Shelter: Wesley House is located at 701 Madison Street in Chester and contains 17 rooms for families or single women.  It is typically at full capacity of 70 people on any given day and serves an average of 240 individuals (75 households) per year.  Wesley House has a state-of-the-art computer training room for clients to improve their computer skills, search for employment, and secure permanent housing. Financial literacy (Money Smarts) classes are offered here as well as the Catholic Social Services’ Out of Poverty Program, enrichment classes, nutrition classes, medical assessments through Horizon House, respite care for needy children, toys during the holiday season, and Planned Parenthood classes.

COUPLES: SHELTER POLICIES

Shelter programs have varying policies regarding placement accommodations for “couples”. Most

programs require that “couples” work together on a Family Service Plan. Below is a brief description

of the policies at each shelter.

Homeless Shelter delco

Warming Center – Couples are accepted, but must sleep separately.

Connect-by-Night – Couples are accepted, but must sleep separately.

Life Center – Couples are accepted, but must sleep separately.

Wesley House and Family Mgmt. Center – These two shelters have the appropriate

accommodations to allow couples to reside in the same unit if they present as a couple and agree to a joint service plan.

And the list went on. The problem with the shelters was every one of them was in a bad area, they did not open until 7:45 at night and most of them required you to leave by 8:00am.

I tried a few other politicians’ offices and received the same list.

If you are an 80-year-old homeless woman with no car and no cell phone how do you call all of these places? How do you get there? It was so frustrating.

I didn’t really want Sophie living with us but I was not going to leave her at any of those dangerous places, no way!

I came across this agency in Arkansas. This is another organization that ‘gets it.’ Homeless people need homes.

Homeless agency ROCK of HOPE

Ending Homelessness…One Life at a Time

Rock of Hope is a faith based charity that is working to eliminate homelessness in Central Arkansas by creating a network of love and support for our homeless friends. We are pioneering a new approach to help participants achieve a sustainable exit from homelessness.

Our unique approach helps our homeless friends by matching each one with a personal “champion” who becomes involved in their lives and guides them through each step of the journey toward independent living. This personal approach, along with other services such as short term transitional housing and transportation services, is creating a lasting impact and reducing the homeless population of Central Arkansas one life at a time.

For more information or to donate to this charity: http://therockofhope.org

Thank you for reading.

Doreen

I’m one of Lisa’s Live Wires! Lisa is a challenge co-host Lisa Buie-Collard

A-Z 2015 Minion Badge

My fellow live wires:

Rhonda Albom –   Bob R. Milne –   Tamera Narayan –  Stephanie Faris –   Heather McCubbin –   Randi Lee

 

 

Night Falls…

Today’s post is part of the annual A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. Each day of April (except Sunday,) we write a post corresponding with that day’s letter of the alphabet. For more information on the challenge and its creator visit:

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com

a-z 2015 N

My theme for this years’ A-Z Challenge is An Intimate Look at the Homeless and Mental Health Epidemic in America which just happens to be the subtitle of my next book, The Stranger in My Recliner. The book is the true story of Sophie.  She was the eighty-year-old homeless woman that my husband brought home one night. She lived with us for nearly three –years. The book will be out this fall.

 

Night Falls

It was cold. The sharp pains in her back and hand reminded her. Trying not to move anything but her eyes she scanned. She saw him and felt relief and fear. Getting up was painful but she had to make sure he was breathing. They both had to get out of there before the school kids walked by, saw them and got scared. The mothers would call the police. She did not want to scare the kids and she definitely did not want to go to the hospital or even worse, jail.

Frank moaned, struggling to get on his feet. Sophie shushed him. The drug addicts were still passed out. They gathered their shopping bags and shuffled their way to the main road. The black sky just under the trees turned gray for a moment and then a bright orange. They shuffled faster. Shelly would be arriving any minute. The thought of hot coffee helped them pick up the pace.

Sunrise

They sat at the booth enjoying the warmth from the sun, soaking up every ray hoping the memory would keep them warm tonight. After lunch Sophie would leave Frank at McDonalds and she would go to the bank, to the storage facility and to the Goodwill store. They needed blankets. There was no time to cry. She found two thick blankets that were reasonably clean. She couldn’t wait to show them to Frank, she was so worried about him.

She could see the red flashing lights ten blocks ahead and knew. Now she was completely alone.

Ambulance lights

She shuffled back down the side street. Her fingers cramped around the plastic shopping bag handles. The sun was already turning bright orange. She had to get back before it fell behind the trees. She could not remember a time in her 80-years when she felt so terrified.

Again, night falls.

Thank you for reading,

Doreen

I’m one of Lisa’s Live Wires! Lisa is a challenge co-host Lisa Buie-Collard

My fellow live wires:

Rhonda Albom –   Bob R. Milne –   Tamera Narayan –  Stephanie Faris –   Heather McCubbin –   Randi Lee

 

 

Little Feet and Broken Hearts…

Today’s post is part of the annual A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. Each day of April (except Sunday,) we write a post corresponding with that day’s letter of the alphabet. For more information on the challenge and its creator visit:

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com

a-z 2015 L

My theme for this years’ A-Z Challenge is An Intimate Look at the Homeless and Mental Health Epidemic in America which just happens to be the subtitle of my next book, The Stranger in My Recliner. The book is the true story of Sophie.  She was the eighty-year-old homeless woman that my husband brought home one night. She lived with us for nearly three –years. The book will be out this fall.

An excerpt from The Stranger In My Recliner:

Little Feet and Broken Hearts

My granddaughters Morgan and Avery were coming to spend the weekend with us. They were only three and six-years-old. I was worried about how they would react to Sophie. I was also worried about how Sophie would react to them. I shuddered when the thought of her harming them popped into my head. I felt I knew enough of her personality at this point to doubt she would harm a child. I would be diligent anyway and not let my guard down.

Morgan and Avery

I asked her if she had any grandchildren and she told me again that her son had a cute little girl. The little girl’s mother was the one Soph told me had plastic surgery so her son would think she was younger and get back together with her. She would not tell me the woman’s name or the little girl’s name. She told me her and her son were planning to get an apartment together when the woman tricked him into moving to California with her. Sophie said he then left her sitting on a sidewalk, crying with no place to go.

special_features-medicine_mismanagement-2

I think that girlfriend deserves a man like her son and vise versa. If he left his own mother on the sidewalk, homeless, did she think for one minute, he would never leave her?

Another concern with the kids coming to visit were the two little dogs we just rescued. They were not used to being around small children so we had no idea how they would react. I was nervous. I read a couple of blog posts on how to introduce dogs to children. There was a lot to learn. We decided to have the dogs on their leashes so we could control them when the kids first came into the house. We also gave the kids special homemade peanut butter treats to feed the dogs. Those treats would be reserved for only the kids to give to them.

Lance and Louie; Louie and Lance...

Lance and Louie; Louie and Lance…

I worried for nothing. It was love at first sight for the dogs and the kids. Lance and Louie followed the little girls around like lovesick little puppies. They continue to do that today. All we have to do is say the kids are coming over and they head for the front window to sit and wait, tails wagging.Sophie was getting used to having the television in our living room to herself. She watched the Soap channel 24/7. I was noticing more and more that she was not even going into her room to sleep at night. She had been sleeping in the blue recliner, in her clothes. I needed to figure out a way to put a stop to that. I decided we needed a TV for her room. The one we got was larger and nicer than the one we had in the living room but she still refused to watch TV in her room.

In the meantime, she seemed to get agitated around the fifth episode of Dora the Explorer so I took the girls upstairs into our bedroom to watch their shows. It annoyed me but it seemed easier to bring the girls upstairs. Everybody would be happy that way, except for me.

By Sunday afternoon, it dawned on me that I had not stopped the entire weekend. I cooked, served, cleaned, shopped, bathed the little ones, the dogs and started Sophie’s baths and did all of our laundry. I was exhausted. Not that I was one bit unhappy I was just plain tired. All in all the weekend went well. The dogs didn’t bite the kids the kids didn’t bite the dogs. Sophie couldn’t bite anybody because she didn’t have any teeth.

Feet

I’m one of Lisa’s Live Wires! Lisa is a challenge co-host Lisa Buie-Collard.

A-Z 2015 Minion Badge

I am excited to be working with this bunch of fabulous bloggers …

Rhonda Albom –   Bob R. Milne –   Tamera Narayan –  Stephanie Faris

Heather McCubbin –   Randi Lee

 

 

 

Choose Kindness…

Today’s post is part of the annual A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. Each day of April (except Sunday,) we write a post corresponding with that day’s letter of the alphabet. For more information on the challenge and its creator visit:

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com

a-z 2015 k

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My theme for this years’ A-Z Challenge is An Intimate Look at the Homeless and Mental Health Epidemic in America which just happens to be the subtitle of my next book, The Stranger in My Recliner. The book is the true story of Sophie.  She was the eighty-year-old homeless woman that my husband brought home one night. She lived with us for nearly three –years. The book will be out this fall.

A to Z KINDNESS BANNER

Some psychologists believe that ‘being nice’ isn’t really so nice after all. They believe being nice actually comes from a fear. We ‘act’ nice towards someone because we want to be liked or we fear what others will think of us if we are not perceived of as a ‘nice’ person. As kids, especially little girls we were constantly told to ‘be nice’ and to ‘be good’ even to people we didn’t like. We were taught to keep the peace at all cost even if we were filled with hate. Some girls learned how to use niceness as a way to get what they wanted or as a way to gain power. Being nice is telling the cashier in the supermarket to have a nice day because it sounds good but actually you could care less what kind of day she has.

Cashier sad

Overly nice people usually have very low self- esteem and are only nice so they can feel better about themselves and so others will like them.

Being overly nice can put you at risk of being used and mistreated. It can leave you feeling powerless and out of control. It can cause unhappiness and even illness.

Being nice is being selfish.

Kindness on the other hand comes from real love, compassion and empathy towards fellow human beings and all living things. Compassion and empathy are real needs that some people have to help others or ourselves. It makes kindness the total opposite of being nice. Being kind is looking that cashier in the eye and saying, “It looks like you are very busy today. I hope you are done soon and can go home and relax,” and meaning every word. Being kind is opening and holding the door for an elderly woman, looking her in the eye and then taking her bags to her car for her. It is easy for kind people to be assertive because they care as much about themselves as they do others. They earn and expect respect.

Quote always be kind

Kindness is not a feeling it is a choice. It is a character quality that we can work on until it comes naturally. It is choosing to do the right thing even when the right thing is the hardest to do. There is a direct correlation between being kind and being happy. When we are truly good to others out of love we feel real happiness.

Being kind is being selfless.

Thank you for reading,

Doreen

I’m one of Lisa’s Live Wires! Lisa is a challenge co-host Lisa Buie-Collard.

A-Z 2015 Minion Badge

I am excited to be working with this bunch of fabulous bloggers …

Rhonda Albom –   Bob R. Milne –   Tamera Narayan –  Stephanie Faris

Heather McCubbin –   Randi Lee

 

Jails, Justice and Homelessness…

Today’s post is part of the annual A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. For more information on the challenge and its creator visit:

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com

a-z 2015 j

My theme this year is An Intimate Look at the Homeless and Mental Health Epidemic in America which just happens to be the subtitle of my next book, The Stranger in My Recliner. The book is the true story of Sophie.  She was the eighty-year-old homeless woman that my husband brought home one night. She lived with us for nearly three –years. The book will be out this fall.

Jails, Justice and Homelessness

Did you know that if you become homeless you are pretty much considered a criminal by law enforcement and most communities? It is illegal pretty much everywhere to sleep outside, to loiter to beg and now it is becoming illegal to feed the homeless people on public property.

Homeless on bench

 

These laws that cause the homeless to be jailed and processed through the justice system do nothing to alleviate the problem of homelessness. In fact the fines and court cost pile up causing the homeless to be repeatedly jailed because they cannot pay the fines which results in higher fines, more court costs and this only causes the homeless person to be in an unending cycle of poverty. It also sucks up government, political and private resources that could be used elsewhere.

One community in Florida spent more than five-million-dollars over a five-year period jailing, prosecuting and re-jailing the same thirty-six people over and over. That doesn’t count the other millions spent on ambulances, emergency rooms and mental health facilities. It makes no sense morally and less sense fiscally. The town could have rented thirty-six apartments, provided thirty-six social workers, mental health services, addiction services, financial counseling and most likely well before five-years would have money left over and could have had thirty-six tax- paying, upstanding members of their community.

Homeless arrested

It is amazing what a hand up instead of a hand down can do for those whose self-esteem and confidence have been beaten out of them mentally and sometimes physically. Soup kitchens and shelters do not make the homeless feel good about themselves. Most of them are dangerous places. Sure they might be a band-aid but the only people that feel good about them are the people that think these places actually make a difference. They really don’t.

Our police communities are overwhelmed. Their budgets and manpower have been cut severely. They deal with violent criminals, domestic violence situations, child abusers, are the first on scene to deadly accidents seeing horrific sights, witness young people killing each other and they get calls about homeless people. One homeless person sleeping in a park can generate hundreds of calls to the police from mothers walking the children in the park, employees eating lunch the park, vendors trying to do business, dog walkers and joggers. Not all homeless people are mentally ill and not all mentally ill people are dangerous but let’s face facts, some are. All of those people that call the police have a right and deserve to use the public park the way it was intended to be used without fear.

The homeless also have rights. The police routinely do what they call sweeps. They go through public properties and confiscate or destroy the possessions of homeless people and their shelters with the hope the homeless will move on. If they don’t they are arrested. The UN has called the United States out on this practice. It does violate the homeless person’s fourth-amendment right to illegal search and seizure.

Three states have introduced bills to stop this practice. California, Oregon and Colorado are trying to ensure people can eat, pray and occupy a motor vehicle as long as they are not obstructing passage or are on private property without the owners’ permission.

Most people think the answer is complicated. It’s not. Homeless people need homes. That is pretty simple.

Homeless population numbers

What can you do to help?

Only donate to programs that work towards permanent housing for the homeless.

Before donating to a shelter ask what their policies are. Do young woman have to prove they are at risk on the street before they can stay? Do they accept pets? Do they have programs that lead to permanent housing? What is their crime rate? Are they open 24/7 or do the homeless have to leave first thing in the morning? If you are not comfortable with the answers do not give them your money. Find a program that actually offers a hand up.

Thank you for reading,

Doreen

I’m one of Lisa’s Live Wires! Lisa is a challenge co-host Lisa Buie-Collard.

A-Z 2015 Minion Badge

I am excited to be working with this bunch of fabulous bloggers …

Rhonda Albom –   Bob R. Milne –   Tamera Narayan –  Stephanie Faris –   Heather McCubbin –   Randi Lee

*homeless man on bench: *Photograph: Tony Eves / Alamy/Alamy

 

 

 

 

 

Indigent…

 

Today’s post is part of the annual A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. For more information on the challenge and its creator visit:

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com

a-z 2015 i

My theme this year is An Intimate Look at the Homeless and Mental Health Epidemic in America which just happens to be the subtitle of my next book, The Stranger in My Recliner. The book is the true story of Sophie.  She was the eighty-year-old homeless woman that my husband brought home one night. She lived with us for nearly three –years. The book will be out this fall.

Indigent-

adjective (Formal) destitute, poor, impoverished, needy, penniless, poverty-stricken, down and out, so poor as to lack even necessities; very needy,in want, down at heel (informal), impecunious, dirt-poor, straitened, on the breadline, short, flat broke (informal), penurious, necessitous

One of my readers called me the other night and told me this story. She needed a place to live for herself and her elderly mother. A friend suggested she take over the lease on her trailer. The woman moved herself, her mother, her dog and a couple of smaller animals into the trailer.

Right from day one she had problems with the landlord. He told her he wanted her to move. He had someone he wanted to offer the lease to. Months went by and he continued to harass her and her mother. She reached out to her county agency on aging and her county representatives for help with the harassment. Their idea of helping her was to take custody of her mother and assign a guardian. She was placed in a horrible place. The woman was then served eviction papers, had a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized. She called animal rescue from the mental ward and asked them to go get her pets. She got a little better and was moved into transitional housing. She was fined by animal control ($500.00) for leaving her animals.

664993_4446630479510_1139553004_o

The woman lost all of her belongings, her pets and her mother.

My heart was breaking listening to this story.

This woman was indigent in every sense of the word but she was strong, educated and determined. Every agency that was supposed to give her a hand up instead did everything they could to keep her under the soles of their shoes.

hand-up

Should the woman have been prepared for a rainy day, had some savings, a support network? Of course she should and she did. She was prepared for the rainy day not a tsunami.

The good news is this woman is on her way back to the top. She no longer wants to be a victim and she doesn’t want to fight organizations and politicians anymore. She is moving forward and plans to start a rescue for pets left in the situation her beloved pets were in when she was indigent, hospitalized and completely hopeless.

She is speaking this weekend, let’s wish her luck!

Doreen

I’m one of Lisa’s Live Wires! Lisa is a challenge co-host Lisa Buie-Collard.

A-Z 2015 Minion Badge

 I am excited to be working with this bunch of fabulous bloggers …

Rhonda Albom –   Bob R. Milne –   Tamera Narayan –  Stephanie Faris –   Heather McCubbin –   Randi Lee

 

 

It could happen to anyone…

Today’s post is part of the annual A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. For more information on the challenge and its creator visit:

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com

a-z 2015 f

AtoZ F Banner

The homeless people walking among us are invisible to most. We look past them, avoiding eye contact at all cost. I always did.  Not so much purposely it was more subconsciously. I never wanted to intentionally look into the eyes of such vulnerable human beings.  I could easily be seeing my parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles. It could be a friend or a family member that struggles with mental illness, addiction or chronic poverty. If I didn’t look, I didn’t have to feel anything or do anything for them.

homeless musicians

I had nothing personal against homeless people. In fact I once was homeless. I was in an abusive relationship and left with the clothes on my back. I was one of the lucky ones, my daughter and son-in-law took me in and took care of me until it was safe for me to take care of myself.

Whether we like to think about it or not we are all vulnerable. A job loss, long illness, the loss of a supporting partner, a few wrongly timed tragedies and we could find ourselves without a place to lay our head. It happens more often than you think.

As a twelve-year-old boy, Dr. Phil McGraw lived in a car with his father. His father was doing his psychology internship. Jennifer Lopez left home at eighteen after an argument with her mother. Her mother didn’t want her to be a dancer. She slept on a couch in a dance studio. Singer Jewel lost a job because she wouldn’t sleep with her boss. He withheld her paychecks so she ended up sleeping in her car. She became very ill when her kidneys failed and nearly died in a hospital parking lot.

Dr Phil

The thought that I could be the one pushing a rickety shopping cart has kept me volunteering and bringing in donations of canned and non-perishable foods to my church’s quarterly ‘stop hunger’ drives. Dropping those cans in that box always made me feel good. I was making a difference. I felt as if I earned a free of guilt card and was then able to move about town looking past all of those unfortunate people that walk among us. I was doing what I could do.

Homeless woman shopping cart

Giving always worked for me, until that night, the night that I first met Sophie. That night I had no choice but to look homelessness right in its’ terrified eyes. I wanted to look past it, to keep walking, to throw money and canned goods at it but it was impossible. It was impossible because it was under my roof, sitting on my sofa and wearing my pajamas.

Thirty-seven-thousand people die homeless on the streets of America nearly every year. The number has been at least this high for years and it is growing. This number breaks my heart. No human being should die alone, on a sidewalk or in a shelter. I don’t even believe animals should die alone on the streets or in a shelter. It seems at times we do more to rescue those animals than we do our own family members. Both need to be rescued.

As part of this rapidly changing demographic baby boomers are turning sixty-five at a rate of ten-thousand a day. With those numbers expected to continue until at least the year two-thousand and twenty we are likely to see a dramatic spike in the already epidemic numbers of elderly homeless people between now and then.

We need a plan.

~~~~~

A-Z 2015 Minion Badge

I’m one of Lisa’s Live Wires! Lisa is a challenge co-host Lisa Buie-Collard.

I am excited to be working with this bunch of fabulous bloggers …

Rhonda Albom –   Bob R. Milne –   Tamera Narayan –  Stephanie Faris –   Heather McCubbin –   Randi Lee

 

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