They come from all over, bringing bags of laundry, backpacks, smelly socks, dirty blankets. Some bring broken hearts and fear. Some bring their feelings of being lost and alone. Who are they? Were do they stay? In the evening, they try to conceal themselves, hunkered down in a van full of all they own, parked out on the edge of Walmart, or behind the Del Taco, hoping that the message of "Do not Disturb" is subtly read by the blocked out windows or the piles of clothes within. They hope that no one will hurt them in the long night.
A young girl, alone, who earned her degree, worked hard, and was then injured is left disabled, waiting for a call from worker's comp saying her physical therapy is approved. She sits on a folding chair, crutches beside her, buries her head in her hands and cries. "Where are you staying?" "In my car. My mom says I'm lazy and she doesn't want anything to do with me." She pauses and tears start afresh. "I miss my dog. She's been my rock." What to do, what to do? So many needs. We fill those we can. We help with laundry, give a bag of groceries, tomatoes, cucumbers, plums, feed them a meal. I tell her of the safe places I know to sleep, but are any places really that safe? It's a $100 fine for sleeping in your car in our city. Services are few. Needs are great. We help wash clothes and lend an ear and whatever else we can find.
We gather because we know that, as Fr. G would say, we need to make the circle larger so that those on the edges are included in the middle, because there is no "us and them". Only us.
Christian, Lupe, Shannon, Mona, Steve, Jackie, Eduardo, Connie, Matt, and everyone else who makes this possible. Just Us. LaundryLove HB