One Woman’s Lessons From Living on the Street and Other NPR Links and Reflections on Homeless Women
In the NPR Article below by Gabrielle Emanuel we learn about how very difficult it is to be a homeless woman living on the streets. This and the links throughout the article are important to reflect on as we consider how we can be there for homeless women, men, youth and families. In my experience in working with homeless women since 1982 in three cities, reaching out does matter and more often than not makes a big difference. It is when we turn away and say “they want to live this way” that the tragedy of homelessness continues. This link was sent to me by Rev.Debbie Little, founder of Ecclesia Street Ministries and mentor to many street ministers. Ecclesia and Street Ministries make a difference and we at Good Shepherd Ministries of Southwest Florida are honored to be associated with them. You know from former blogs that we were able to house five women who have been homeless this summer. This was a major blessing and the culmination of lots of groundwork, relationship building and prayer. Now some of these women are ministering to others who face homelessness and that is the greatest blessing. This is Rose getting the key to her new apartment. It does help to be able to intervene before chronic homelessness spans years as in the NPR article.
But even when women experience chronic homelessness, loving, accepting, patient relationships and skills in leaving no stone leading to health and housing unturned pays off.
On the right is Lauretta who had been chronically homeless over many years,disruptive and not welcome in any church or service agency in Fort Myers until she responded to the love and acceptance of our Good Shepherd ministry. Her story under her “pen name” Marietta for she wrote a part of the story herself is in my book Come By Here: Church with the Poor, 2010,Publish America now America Star Books.com. But the best part of the story is that it continues to be a story of a woman who is housed since 2009, happy and reaching out to family and others who are homeless to offer hope and help. Today we had our Tuesday Ministry and Lauretta shared with us how she is helping a relative who has cancer and is homeless with a child. She knew that we would help her to help this woman. One of the women,Diane, whom we housed this summer was brought to us by Lauretta who found her in the same park where we offered meals on Friday nights in 2007-2009 and where we met Lauretta. We also celebrated her birthday today, along with Betty’s and Louie’s both of whom we housed this summer. What a joyful celebration we had! But at the same time we had two men with us who were still homeless and whom we promised to continue to help toward housing. Yet they are hopeful because they know that if Lauretta and Louie who were chronically homeless can be housed, they can too. For us, it is not fast enough and the road is hard for all who live outside, but when we walk it together as a church community, with Jesus who brought good news to the poor and asked us to follow, it is easier.
This is Daine on the left and her new friend and neighbor, Bev in front of Diane’s door. Lauretta, once chronically homeless, was the one who brought Diane to us . Diane loves her new home. We pray for outreach to “Susan” and to all who are homeless and for the multiplication of housing resources. No One should have to live outside.