I just finished posting a review of Danielle Steel’s book on the homeless. I chose to write this review today because it is Thanksgiving, and it is a day I try to do something for others, especially the homeless. Did you know that thousands of people in the United States also do the same?
I called the Salvation Army yesterday, here in Sacramento, to see if they needed any volunteers to help serve their free dinner to the over 500 expected recipients. She actually said they have an overflow of volunteers. A couple of years ago my sister and I volunteered at a similar event in Florida and there were more volunteers than recipients. I see that as a good sign for humanity. Yesterday, I read online, people asking for suggestions of places that they could take their kids to help volunteer to feed the needy, to make it a family event. What a great thing to teach children. The above picture is a group of people on line today, in Sacramento for a free Thanksgivning dinner.
While leaving the Salvation Army today, I saw so many people homeless people sitting along the side of the road, it brought tears to my eyes. You see I know these people, and I know they are my fellow human beings, so many lost people with no family or friends. The kindness of others can make such a difference in their lives. Just like all of us, they are really doing the best they can.
Later I saw a pregnant woman with a sign, “Homeless, Pregnant, please help.” Again, the tears came to my eyes. How can we live like this? On my way back, I had to stop and talk to her. “Are you okay?”, I asked. “Do you have a place to sleep?”, “Are you getting medical checkups?” “Are you looking to live in a Shelter?” She said there is a shelter that is a bit far away and it is a wait list shelter, which means each day you don’t know if you will get in or not. She has been going to the doctor, so she is okay that way. In order to get to the shelter she needs to take the bus, in order to take the bus, she needs money. The corner she begs at, is a busy corner, it helps her with her financial needs.
I told this woman, (named Masaka,) I recently met a woman who told me she has a friend who runs a woman’s shelter in Sacramento. I will see her on Saturday and at least I can ask her if she knows of a shelter for her. I felt as fellow human being, and especially as a fellow female, I needed to at least make some effort to find her a home.
When I worked as a volunteer for the St Vincent de Paul Society in Florida, we gave free bus passes out regularly. But here, I did not know how things worked yet. I just recently moved to the area and have not connected yet with them, (SVDP), besides this is a big city, it is a bit different. I asked Masaka if she happened to have a cell phone, I know a few of the homeless get help with cell phones. If I find a place she could go, how was I going to find her? I will soon be moving a half hour away. She did not have a phone, but she said she was regularly at that corner. I just thought about how the weather was going to start getting colder, and felt concerned with the thought that this was where she was going to spend her pregnancy.
When I first worked with the homeless in Marin, it was a good thing I did not have my own apartment. My heart was so opened to these people, I wanted to give them all a place to stay. I was amazed the first night I volunteered at the Marin County Emergency Winter shelter (Feb 2009) , and a bit frightened. I was given the job of serving the soup. I began to relax as people just started talking to me and a few were very friendly. There were about 100 men, 40 women, three couples, and one pregnant woman, all sleeping on the floor in sleeping bags. My heart just overflowed with compassion, once the first bit of fear melted away. These people stole my hearts. First I volunteered one night a week, then two, then three, then four. I was there as many nights as I could be. I was in graduate school at the time, and felt pulled between doing homework, or helping at the shelter. They started to call me the Den Mother, comparing me to Wendy from Peter Pan. I met some beautiful souls with amazing stories. When the weather got warmer, the shelter closed, and on those rainy nights, or those unusually chilly nights, I thought of my homeless brothers and sisters, trying to stay comfortable in what ever secret hiding place they found hoping the police would harass them.
Now, I have Masaka in the back of my mind, and hopefully I will find a place that shelters pregnant woman. I will keep you posted.