Sunday, December 18, 2011

THE VOICE IN THE TREES ~ EPIDEMIC OF HOMELESS CHILDREN & THEIR MOTHERS

"At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by, 'I was hungry and you gave me to eat. I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless and you took me in.'" - Mother Teresa

"...there will only be one test as to whether we will go to heaven or not – namely, how we responded to the POOR during our lifetime." Fr. Ronald Rolheiser





An 11-year-old homeless girl: "I died three years ago." 

  • 97% of these families are headed by single women with an average of two to four children.  
  • Many of these women are struggling with histories that include being victims of domestic abuse, injuries and/or illnesses resulting in loss of employment and housing*. 


MERRY CHRISTMAS

Today I was walking the dog behind Trader Joe’s and I passed a shady alcove bordering the alley, in the center of which was a large tree. I peeked into the bushes, and saw a grocery bag. This seemed like a private place for a homeless person to rest, but just as I was thinking this, I glimpsed a pair of shoes attached to legs in camouflage pants, standing behind the tree, hiding inside the tree — as if they were hoping not to be seen, trying to blend in with the shrubs. I could hear the owner of this pair of legs trying desperately not to breathe. Was it a homeless person, or just someone who was trying to go to the bathroom in the bushes?

As I passed by, I said to the bush: “God Bless you.” I kept walking. Then I realized that I was holding in my hand two sticks of Mozarella string cheese, so I circled back to the bush and offered it to the person hiding in the trees. “Would you like a piece of cheese? It’s wrapped in plastic, it has its own wrapper," I said. A woman’s voice, shaking, rang out, “No, no thank you.” Then, the voice said: “You're very sweet.” I could see a pair of glasses and dark hair through the leaves.

I walked away and said, “You are sweet too.”

Then I started crying; I couldn't stop. The same way I cried on Sunday when our church pastor talked to us about the homeless people and how desperately sad they are. It has been dawning on me more and more how truly tragic it is to be homeless — and especially to be a homeless child. Can you imagine what it’s like to have no place to rest, no privacy in going to the “bathroom”... no clean, safe, or soft place to lay one’s head. No place without bugs or flies, mosquitos or rats… no place to get dressed, to bathe, or to bring friends home for ice cream. No place to do homework. No place to have dinner or play Monopoly or take piano lessons. No dinner. God bless these poor lost little souls.

My favorite charities are Feed the Children, Imagine L.A., Union Rescue Mission and Candy Christmas" "Under the Bridge Mission" which you can read about in recent threads.

_______________________________

An 11-year-old homeless girl: "I died three years ago." 

  • 97% of these families are headed by single women with an average of two to four children.  
  • Many of these women are struggling with histories that include being victims of domestic abuse, injuries and/or illnesses resulting in loss of employment and housing*. 

* Please note that these matters do, indeed, precipitate homeless episodes; however, the  underlying cause of extended family homelessness is simply the lack of affordable housing.  Struggling parents in low paying jobs and the decreasing access to available Section 8 or other low-income housing is ultimately a losing situation.  Imagine LA's current programming does not include the development of low-income housing, but we applaud and encourage those efforts. 

Los Angeles, which boasts the world's fifth largest economy, since 2005, has become the Homeless Capital of our country.  Currently, at least approximately 8,000 family units, representing more than 18,000 children and youth occupy our city. 
  • 97% of these families are headed by single women with an average of two to four children.  
  • Many of these women are struggling with histories that include being victims of domestic abuse, injuries and/or illnesses resulting in loss of employment and housing*. 
The journey begins with the inability to pay rent and then leads to eviction, forcing the family into motels, SRO hotels, homeless shelters, friends and relatives, or, ultimately, the  streets. The typical homeless Mom is trying to survive without adequate housing, childcare, and access to support services.  Her children are often uneducated; shuffled from one school to another due to the transient nature of no permanent housing.  Homeless children, more often than not, drop out of school, fail, or join gangs.
The most innocent victims of family homelessness are the children.  They are the ones who suffer the most, not knowing where their next meal, bed, or school is.  The following transcription of an eleven year old homeless girl, speaks for itself.