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January 26, 2010

Homelessness Hit Home

As I think back as far as my teens, I can clearly remember thinking about homeless people. Not in a faraway detached way either. There was the one time when I was seventeen and faced with a situation that I needed to find a home but I was not homeless. I had just been declared an adult by the county court. They ran out of foster homes for me to live in and I needed a place to live. I wouldn't have been put out on the street so I don't know why homelessness even entered my mind at that time.

Throughout my life I have done things in my own quiet way that was within my means and my nerve to do personally. I would buy large quantities of sample products like shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush, small wash cloth, cans that could be opened without a can opener of things like meats, fruit. I put some of each in a plastic shopping bag and drove to an area of town I didn't live in and would drive and see someone sitting on the sidewalk and pull over, get out, and hand them the bag and ask them if I could hug them. The hug was for me more than for them.

Recently I found this site for The Little Red Wagon Foundation, and I have been grinning ever since I read about this boy. He could be my little brother. Well, not technically, but you know what I mean. When I watched the little video of his sorting the items and putting the items into a bag to deliver to people, I loved it. I haven't done that in over six years now but there are things I can do and I will.

In September 2006 I wrote a post in this blog about homelessness. This subject has crept up here and there in my life for years. Little did I know I would experience homelessness up close and personal.

In early August 2008 it became necessary for me to flee the house I shared with hubby. He had not been taking the correct meds for his bipolar disorder. He thought he was and he did take them daily but when he headed into a manic episode, the seduction of the mania was too strong. After a couple months of living with a raving, raging stranger I fled. Of course, with most stories, there is much more to this. Maybe for another time. All I can say about that particular time in my life is it was the absolute saddest time I have ever had. Sad to watch someone I love killing himself and sad for my hopeless situation. The police found hubby and kindly and lovingly delivered him to a hospital ready to help him. The kind people at the police department found an opening at a homeless shelter and helped me get there. I lived at the shelter three and a half months. I didn't have to sleep on a sidewalk or under a cardboard box or even in relative luxury in a tent in a park. I was in a room with four women in bunk beds. There was a kitchen with food and we took turns making evening meals and helping with the children. There were bathrooms. We were assigned chores. Things ran smoothly. When I arrived I was on overload. It took a couple weeks for me to be able to talk or participate. Months later I was a different person. I was in therapy and getting help. I am sure I will write more another time on the experience and help I received. As I read other blogs and hear the courageous and kind acts people do for homeless people, I am associated in some way that wasn't there before my experience in 2008. And I am grateful for all of it.

33 comments:

Brian Miller said...

thanks for sharing that story...i have heart for the homeless. i have been close but never there completely. a few decisions different and i would be. growing up you hear the "reasons" they are homeless making them seem evil. they are people...who deserve our hearts.

Eternally Distracted said...

Not only do I think your story is amazing, I loved the way you told it... there was no dwelling for sadness, just simple facts and thoughts for other people despite the situation you were in. You are an inspiration.

Shadow said...

being homeless must be a scary empty place. i can't image it. yet, look at you. you made it. and you've come together again. that takes work and dedication. from both sides. you are inspiring!

DJan said...

I have always had enough siblings and parents (in the old days) that I never felt I would be homeless. But you really never know. Things can change in the blink of an eye... well told story, and I'm glad you are in my blogosphere for me to learn more about.

Ina in Alaska said...

Powerful. Well written and you are a brave woman. I too have never been near homeless as I have lots of relatives and places to go, but as DJan stated in her comment, things can change quickly. I am glad your hubby has gotten help and is on course now.

To answer your question of a few days ago, both Aunt Bette and Uncle Pat were lifelong smokers. Bette got lung cancer as a result of smoking which is what put an end to her life, but Uncle Pat quit long ago, although he now has breathing problems. He is now in his mid-70s and has found love again (through the classifieds!) with a very lovely lady named Lou, we all like her a lot. Many hugs to you today, dear friend (I am a lifelong non-smoker) xoxo

Margie said...

Dear TechoBabe
Thank you for sharing this story!
It really touched my heart!
You are an inspiration and I'm so very glad to know you!

Your heart is big and wide!

Joy and blessings to you, my friend!

Jeni said...

Although I've never been homeless, the fear of that is always in the back of my mind. Now, sometimes more than ever as I am dependent on my daughter these days to keep the roof over my head even though it is MY roof, my house (in name anyway) but it is also MY mortgage she is paying and if something were to happen to her, I worry then about how would I keep my home. If something happens to me -or maybe I should say that as "When" she will be in better straits, financially, because the house would then be paid off. But in the meantime...well, yes I still do worry ya know.

Julie said...

Technobabe, you are amazing, and this post is amazing. First of all, my heart cries for the girl you were at seventeen. I was thinking the story you previously posted may have been you. No kid should ever have to experience the fear you did. My heart also cries for the woman you were in 2008 and that horrible ordeal of your homelessness. But now you have become a voice for hurting people. You have turned hard times into a way to help others. That is so beautiful.

The Little Red Wagon Foundation is awesome!! Thank you very much for telling us about it. I have just bookmarked the link, and he will get a donation from me when I have some money. I will also send the link to friends. Collecting money or items for the backpacks would be a great project for youth groups (or any group). He thinks of everything...even mosquito kits. Kids like Zach make me think there is hope for the world. Thank you so much for this inspiration.

Ronda Laveen said...

I agree with Eternally D. I loved the way you told your story. And your idea of packaging items for the homeless is fantastic. I will borrow it if you don't mind.

You and hubby have come along way. I'm sure it was a lot of work but you are making it. Good for both of you.

cinner said...

TechnoBabe, I am glad you and Hubby managed to deal with the situation. I also am glad that you have such a strong voice. Your experiences speak volumes. Take care.

Eileen said...

Thanks for sharing your story. I'm glad you were able to find a relatively nice place to stay, I hear so many horror stories about homeless shelters and how so many homeless would rather live out on the streets because the shelters are more dangerous to them.
My kids and I used to make sandwiches for the homeless and then walk New York city blocks and parks handing them out, and when the kids were on Christmas break from school we would go and hand out gloves, scarfs, hats, and socks.
I haven't done it in years now though, I think it's time I started again.
Thanks.

I also read your last post, and I've been feeling so nostalgic for the 'good old days' I've even done a post or two on it and I was planning to do a 'Monday Memories' post each week, but I think I'll be taking a blogging break for awhile. Maybe when I come back.

Great posts!
All the best,
Eileen

Kathy M. said...

I feel blessed to have found your blog. The more of your story you share, the more I like you and respect your path. I love the story about the care packages and hugs. Thank you.

Lou said...

This post speaks to my heart. My son has been homeless several times (the cardboard box kind) due to not getting meds for his bipolar (no insurance) and then serious addiction/alcohol issues. He is alive today through the kindness of strangers such as yourself. I truly feel obligated to pay it forward, a karmic debt, if you will. I posted on it http://brokenheartedmom.blogspot.com/2008/04/thank-you.html

Spencer L Casey said...

Amazing post TechnoBabe. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Joanna Jenkins said...

Wow Techno, that was a powerful post and beautifully written. It made my heart ache for you but after all that you've been through, life has not harden you and your heart is generous and full. Life really has been an adventure for you.

Thanks for the tip on The Little Red Wagon Foundation. I will check it out next.

Thank you for sharing your story with us.
xo

She Writes said...

I am powerfully aware of the homeless in the past year and will do what I can, when I can. I see them and I care!

Debbie said...

What a moving story. Thank you for sharing this with us. I think it is important for us all to understand that homelessness can happen to anyone.

Unknown Mami said...

Thank you for revealing yourself.

Shrinky said...

One thing about a tough upbringing, it sure teaches you empathy. My goodness girl, you are such a shining surviver.

Such a well written piece, and so very wise!

Big Dave T said...

They have a shelter in the county here for abused women. I don't know how long the women can stay there though. And they have a homeless shelter in Ann Arbor too. Don't know if there's any homeless in our small town but there are some characters who look like they would fit right in with that group.

Cheryl said...

Thank you so very much for sharing your story. You have helped others less fortunate with your kindness. Your story is amazing and I thank you so much for sharing. It has opened my eyes as well as my heart! Thank you.

Kathy M. said...

Hi again. Just wanted to thank you for your thoughts on my question. I really value your comments and perspective. And you are right about my sponsor. I'm very fortunate.

Green-Eyed Momster said...

I'm sorry I haven't been around much for you. You've been such a good friend to me.

Your story really touched my heart. I really feel for those who are homeless. I actually left home when I was about 15. I lived with my best friend for a couple of weeks and when I called home to check in my mom told me to "Pack your shit and move out. You haven't been home for 2 weeks." I went home and patched things up with her but I still didn't want to be at my home and I felt homeless at a very young age.

You rock and I'll try to be around more for you. No promises though. My life is extremely busy right now.

Sending you big hugs!!

terri said...

This is such an eye-opener. I see homeless people in the skyways on my walk in to the office every day, especially during the winter months when everyone is trying to stay warm. I always want to do something, but struggle with offending someone. Now it seems silly to me that I even thought offering a small bit of help would feel offensive.

Roxy said...

I'm so glad that I dropped by to visit you here. Wow! What an inspiring post! You are amazing... and so kind :) I'm looking forward to reading more in your blog.

Thanks for visiting me and leaving your thoughtful comments, i appreciate it!

lisleman said...

I agree with the above commenters/followers about this post and what it says about you and others too.

also thanks for getting me to put the google followers gadget up on my blog.

Dan said...

It's good that you were able to get the assistance needed when you needed it the most. That is sometimes the hardest part, matching need with supply. Congratulations for being able to recover and move on with life.

I had a friend in college that couldn't/wouldn't stay on his bipolar meds. In spite of all we, the police, the hospital, etc. tried to do to help, he eventually died homeless and derelict in a strange city. It has served as a reminder to treat all well - you never know the true back story.

Fancy said...

An excellent reflection on homelessness - a story well told! Thank you for sharing!!

Dorraine said...

I'm glad it all worked out for you. One never knows what others are going through until we walk in those shoes. And it's a great thing we don't have to in certain situations but that doesn't mean we can't get our hearts in gear and help our fellow man. You have a very kind heart. Your story was touching.

Thank you, too, for stopping bye Wonderland and leaving your kind comment. I'm looking forward to your stories. :-)

jozien said...

Wow, that is an amazing story. It makes me feel spoiled about my own life. I maybe have no money for clothes :)(i don't, i hardly ever buy clothes) But i have been pampered all my life. And i promise i will never whine again. if you knew what i was really crying about last month. At the same time, in this blogging way i feel you helped me pull through.

Wayne Pitchko said...

thanks for sharing this TechnoBabe...take care

Syd said...

I volunteered at a homeless shelter for a few years. It was an eye opening experience. Many were mentally ill substance abusers. Every time I went I came aware with a heavy heart.

deb said...

So poignant, and authentic, and full of grace.
I've clicked here from Beth, and just reading through a bit.

Your blog is the real deal. Thank you.