Mandy has taken to sitting with a gentleman about her age. He, too, is homeless – I believe. I’m not sure if he is new to the streets, but his hardened untrusting eyes say that he is not. I don’t know his name yet. I’ll ask for it next time I see him. I don’t know why I haven’t asked. It’s odd to talk to her so freely, but just be like, ‘hey’, to him.
Maybe I’m waiting for an introduction. Maybe I’m nervous to know.
I ran into Mandy and her companion this morning. They had suitcases and I was hopeful she was going somewhere else. I waned her to be safe, employed… having been given a fresh start. A real one.
It makes me wonder how many people are like her – no ID. I really think that if she had an ID she could get a job and pull herself out of this mess. She is smart and well spoken. I remember what she looked like when she first came to the street and how I wondered if she was a college kid, and how she reminded me of people who ran track, her legs were so toned.
Now she is sunburned and wind burned. She is dirty, her teeth starting to rot. She has no ID; taken by a possessive ex-boyfriend who she had to leave to protect herself from. I wish there was a way to get social services involved – in each state – some way to give these people their identities back. There has to be a way. I just don’t know it. And I don’t know if I’m the one to do it.
Maybe when I’m in college – as my primary job – and I need to do my ‘give back’ project, I’ll work on that. I just don’t have the mental strength or the physical time right now. I know that sounds horrible. But, it is actually beyond what I can do.
In the meantime I have started a campaign called Gift Cards for Mandy. This campaign will give $10 gift cards for food, toiletries, clothes, etc to homeless people. Yes, it will start with Mandy… and her friend. But, I do plan on branching it out. Thank you to the 4 people who have graciously given so far.
We presently have enough money for the first two months of gift cards, at the rate of 1 gift card per week. I urge you to donate something – anything. $5 is enough. Remember, it only takes 2 $5 donations to equal 1 $10 gift card.
To understand that I’m not the only person working for change, please read Rabbi Knopf’s blog, including his lovely Homeward Bound article from 2012. While religiously driven, the statistic that he leads with is staggering. Every night nearly 4,000 people sleep homeless in Philadelphia.
Once upon a time I was one of them. It was only for a short time – about 2 weeks – but it totally changed me. I was lucky – during that time, I intermittently couch surfed. And I had a car to sleep in. That car was my home for two weeks. Think about that. Think about having ten outfits that you rotate through and hope that you can shower at friends houses. Most people don’t even have that. I was lucky.