There’s a kind of prayer – I call it the earnest prayer – where you’re just so low it feels like all you can do is throw your head and hands up to the sky.
The last time I said a prayer like that was the morning that I called Our Saviour’s and left a message. I was given a bed the next night.
Finding OSH was the most important thing in helping me get back on my feet. I had been working full-time when I became homeless. I just couldn’t afford my own place on what I was making. I was staying in motels, and money was running out.
I was hoping to find somewhere where I didn’t have to pay rent, but that seemed impossible. Who’s going to offer that to you, just to have a chance to get ahead?
They welcomed me at Our Saviour’s shelter without knowing anything about me. They gave me a bed, a shower, and toiletries. I went to work the next day knowing that I didn’t have to search for a place to sleep. Just the idea that I had 28 days to get something together filled me with promise.
Having that time and a safe place to stay, I was able to apply and interview for a second job. Then I knew I would be able to afford an apartment, but I was hit with the reality of lack of credit. OSH helped me problem solve around this. I made some efforts to get a charge removed. It didn’t change my credit score, but I was able to give a landlord a good explanation of the dispute. I also told him, “I know I don’t meet some of the criteria that you would like, but I’d be grateful for the opportunity to live in that apartment and to show you that I’d make a very good tenant.” It worked, and they rented to me!
When you’re homeless, you miss the security, of course. And practical things like having somewhere safe to keep important papers or being able to enjoy a moment of privacy. But what I missed the most is having an outlet for self-expression – like experimenting in the kitchen. I can’t wait to make a pie or bread from scratch and then invite someone to my home to share it. I’m also looking forward to decorating. I checked out window flower boxes last week, and I have just enough money to get one.
If there’s one thing I want people to know, it’s that homelessness can happen to anybody. There’s a stereotype that it only happens to a certain type of person. But the truth is some people are just one paycheck away from being on the street. Yes, substance abuse and mental health problems are there, but people who aren’t homeless struggle with those issues too.
So I only hope that others can open their eyes and see that people in a shelter have all experienced a loss that led to them being there. But they’re more than what they’ve lost. They’re still people, and they have things to offer the world.