A couple of weeks ago I received a request from our local food bank to come in as there were some things they wanted to discuss with me.
I was told that the form they had given me to fill out as proof that I am a resident here in this little mountain town, was no longer going to be considered acceptable by the Church or Churches that runs the food bank. Instead, they said they would only accept a rental lease, or the persons name on an electricity bill or such.
Yes, you heard me right – The Church told this little food bank DON’T FEED THE HOMELESS ANY MORE!
That was what they had called me in for, to tell me that I could no longer receive food, or any other assistance, unless I could fulfill their requirements.
The two people (one is a Manager and I’m not sure about the other), then started to ask questions about my choice of lifestyle, and why I choose to live this way. They wanted to understand why someone would choose to live in their vehicle, over getting low-income housing, or going on welfare and getting other assistance from the government. They wanted to get an understanding of what type of person chooses to live the way I have done for the past six years, rather than turning to the system for help. I think they feel bad that they are no longer able to offer assistance to the few people in this town that are technically homeless, and who need a small amount of help from time to time, but are basically self-sufficient and are willing to go to extreme’s to get by without depending on the government to help them.
Another reason is that they have had a few people knocking on their doors recently that are in a similar circumstance to myself, and I they have been forced to turn them away. These people only want a little bit of help; basically just a few staples to help with their grocery bill, but prefer to camp or live in their car instead of spending money on rent. As with myself, this then gives them a chance to save some of the money they have earned, instead of handing it directly over to someone else and never getting ahead. (It’s impossible to save when you’re paying rent, and only get paid minimum, or a little above minimum wage).
We talked for a while, and I did my best to explain why I choose to live this way, and why I choose to stay in this little town despite its problems. I also told them about some of the other people I know (no names mentioned, of course) that live this lifestyle. One of them is a gentleman who lives entirely on Social Security, and the odd job for cash. His monthly check is not enough for him to be able to afford a home year-round, so he rents a cheap motel in the winter, and camps in the summer. This gentleman has worked all his life, and most of his jobs were for the government. As with many Americans his SS isn’t adequate. This man in very intelligent, has worked as a First Responder, and has worked in Search and Rescue for the park service, and who knows what else. He doesn’t drink, he doesn’t do drugs, he isn’t mentally ill, he doesn’t put other people down, he volunteers in a variety of ways to help other people and causes. He is a good, honest, American, that has worked hard all his life, and now in his retirement years, can’t afford to live in his own country. This man, who has supported this community, and even saved lives in this very town, would be turned away at the door, if he were to go and ask for food from the food bank.
That is the kind of person that lives the way I do.
I too am an honest person, I don’t do drugs, I don’t steal, I’m not a criminal, or mentally ill (though some might argue with this comment, ha ha), I work hard when I can, I’m clean, I volunteer at different places from time to time, at Christmas I ring the bell for the Salvation Army when its below zero outside, I do no harm to anyone, I don’t ask for Welfare or other government assistance, even though I’m entitled to it, etc. etc. Basically I’m just an honest, American citizen, but because I don’t have a permanent home, I don’t fit into the ‘socially acceptable’ category, and am therefore considered unworthy of food assistance from a CHURCH, OF ALL PLACES!
You see, its not just me, and its not just this town, or this Church, it is a problem far greater than that. This problem extends through every town, in every county, and every State, throughout the entire United States. There is a huge gap in the system, a gap that the government, and some Churches, and plenty of people, choose to ignore, or push aside and pretend that it isn’t there. But it is there, IT IS HERE, and it’s a huge problem, and with things the way they are these days this gap is just going to get bigger and bigger. It won’t go away until it is addressed, and this group of people who don’t quite fit into the social boundaries laid out by society, are recognized as real people with rights, people who deserve to be treated with dignity. And if they have chosen to live a lifestyle that doesn’t burden the system even more than it already does, shouldn’t that be recognized as a positive, selfless move, rather than a negative ONE?
What do YOU think?
Okay, so now I’ve had my say I’ll end with this. I’m officially homeless. I can not get help from the system, unless I get help from the system by letting them pay for part of my housing, or spending all my earnings on rent. It seems a bit screwed up to me, but you know what, I’m okay with it. I started a job a couple of weeks ago, and I don’t ask for food when I have money coming in. I may even have a home starting on July 1st, but you know what, I won’t be signing a lease, so I still won’t be able to prove I’m a resident, but it doesn’t matter. I can manage without their help at this time in my life. I don’t need much, and I can do just fine on very little.
So I sleep in the back of my car, gaze out at the wonderful view of snow-capped mountains, wake when the sun shines into my vehicle at 5:30 am, and life is wonderful, and I’m so, very, very, lucky to have what I have.
Until next time…
Managing just fine without any help from the system, Homeless Gal