Thursday, May 27, 2010

A little bit of initiative

In Atlanta, there are plenty of people in and out of shelters and on the streets. Of course, this is an ongoing problem. However, there is sometimes a situation that can make a difference for at least one person. Yesterday, there was a resource fair for homeless people in Atlanta. There was line out the door for people to receive help- which in itself is a huge deal. Homeless people who take initiative on their own are the ones who are a part of the success statistics.

Inside the building, there were several stations set up with agencies from all over the Atlanta area. The organizations offered transitional/permanent housing, mental and emotional health care, dental care, vision care, and staffing agency appointments. These were all free. All these resources are sometimes all that it takes for a person to get out of the situation they are in- if they so desire.

One of the men I dealt with was incredible. Upon first glance, my assumption would not be that he was homeless- of course I was wrong. The older gentleman had been homeless for about a month because he had lost his job, and in turn, his housing. It was unfortunate because he was a perfectly able and willing human being who had just come across a hard time. He has no drug or alcohol problems, and that was very apparent as well. He was able to secure housing, set up an appointment to receive job counseling, and he made an appointment with the dental people. Overall, I’d say he had a successful afternoon.

While everyone was packing up, he was still hanging around. I asked him how he felt about the day and he said, “You guys are lifesavers. I wouldn’t know what to do with out this being here. I am so relieved.” There was such sincerity and compassion in his voice. He seems like he will be able to get back in a comfortable situation, and aside from all the tools he had received to do so, he had a great attitude. From the beginning, he was pleasant and polite. He even brought a copy of his resume.

Now, this is a story that I do not personally come across frequently. It takes a lot of help and tangible resources for people to get out of homelessness, but it also requires a positive attitude and the desire to leave the streets and shelters. This is an instance in which ‘the system’ has proven successful, and these are always situations we want to hear about. There is nothing more gratifying than hearing someone express their appreciation.

So, in hindsight, maybe the entire system in Atlanta isn’t failing. Aside from the specific man I had the pleasure of speaking with, there were plenty of people who took full advantage of all the organizations that were there. Of course, there are still people who need help, but those who came with the goal of getting out of their situation are one step closer to achieving that. It’s truly amazing.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Why would anyone care what I have to say? I chose to talk about social issues in this blog, not about myself. However, I feel that such important issues require me to prove myself to my readers.

In essence, I have a blessed life. I have been given many opportunities and many resources to achieve the goals I set for myself. Indeed, I have used majority of the tools I’ve been given to create a success story out of myself. Keep reading!
Back in 1999, my father passed away- leaving my poor mother in charge of my sister and me. Needless to say, she struggled financially. I recall a garage sale in which I sold all of my belongings, right down to my entire trendy beanie baby collection. I was 11, and I was mad. Regardless, I moved on. My mother continued to struggle until she met a man whom she married. She thought her problems were solved- she had a man who could support her now. I chuckle at this.

So, turns out this new husband of hers was actually poorer than she was, with an even worse attitude. He tricked her into marrying him, I believe, and she was so vulnerable she fell for it. He mooched off of her while she worked for $9 an hour at the local YMCA. To top our situation, the man was abusive. He was an alcoholic, which always made his belligerence and anger shine through. He was nothing short of the dirtiest scum on the planet. One night, he locked my mother, my sister, and me in the basement of our shared house. I, being 16, had my cell phone handy and ready to call the police. The police said there was nothing they could do and not to bother them again. My mother, my sister, and I all went to a hotel that evening- as we were scared for our lives.

Without boring my small and meager audience with anymore details of this wretched man- my mom eventually divorced him (though that situation was another story in itself). Alas, we were free. Still poor, but at least we were free. Being poor didn’t bother me, I had started working when I was 14 so I could ensure my lifestyle stayed normal. Living in a wealthy area with no money makes it hard to develop as a human being. Comparing myself to others in the ‘snobby’ area was no way to treat myself.

Anyway, low and behold, I’m all grown up now, with all this baggage and then some. Don’t think that this is it for me- this was a short synopsis of why I think the way I do- it by no means is a biography. I could turn my life into a best-selling novel if I had the time.

Watching my mother struggle while being single has made a huge impact on how I feel about ‘feminism’ and homelessness. The fact that someone as intelligent as my mother (bachelor’s and master’s degrees) still thinks she needs a man in her life boggles my turmoil-filled mind.

Women today are plagued with thoughts of deficiency if there is no man in their life. There are so many reasons for this, and I hate to watch intelligent, strong, and beautiful women settle for something they don’t actually want rather than be without a man. What if I never get married or have children? Well, for me, that means a lifetime of self exploration, self-bettering, and lots of lectures from my married friends about getting married.

I scoff at the thought of marriage and kids- sometimes. I’m still a woman. 