I saw Mandy again today. It was like seeing an old friend, even though I only really met her the once. (I missed her yesterday.)
When we had last spoken, she said that she was being told by people that she was “too pretty” and “too clean” to be pan-handling. She said that she felt disgusting and was more dirty that she had been in her life. She told me about the injustice of people who were pan-handling for drugs and getting money because they seemed sick, when really they seemed sick because they were doped up. Meanwhile, here she was, trying to get back on her feet and she might come home with $3.00.
Today she was wrapped in a blanket, rocking ever so slightly, reading the Bible. She had already made quite a bit more than $3.00. People were dropping in change (large change) at a dollar or more as they walked by.
I handed her an envelope. It included meal tickets for a homeless shelter a few blocks away, how to get her birth certificate, how to get a new SS card, how to get a new license, and how her parents could help her get a new Florida license… all the things that we had talked about.
She was surprised – and grateful.
I told her that it’s going to be hard to get the paperwork again. I told her that I didn’t know how to do it, but that I’ve been reaching out to people to try to help her. I told her I didn’t want her to be scared if people knew her name and were trying to help her get the paperwork done. I hope the right sort find her before the wrong sort. I’m all too aware of how badly that can go. But, Mandy’s been living on the street for a while now – I’m sure she has a healthy dose of distrust of other people. I hope it serves her well.
The whole exchange took maybe a minute. But, in that time, there was a healthcare worker passing her. She looked at me when I called Mandy by her name. When I passed her as I was walking away she looked at me, stopped dead in her tracks, doubled back, and gave Mandy a few dollars, a smile, and started a conversation with her.
One drop raises the sea. It may not change the world, but maybe it changes one life. When I had nothing, my friends and family stepped up and helped me. She doesn’t have that sort of friends – or family. I hope the help of one random stranger helps her too.