Most of us have warm homes to live in, good food on the table every day, friends and family who are loving and supportive, careers we enjoy. All in all, much to be grateful for. And as it turns out, much that we often take for granted.
So a year ago, when I struck up a conversation with a young woman pan-handling in front of my bank I had no idea that she would have such an impact on me. Or that I could use my skills to help make a difference in her life, beyond the occasional coin dropped into her cup on the cold sidewalk.
Meg (not her real name) has a tough life. She’s lived on the street for the past few years and lives day to day on whatever money she earns on the street and a small monthly allowance she receives from the Department of Community Services.
But Meg hopes and dreams of going back to school to become a home support worker and of being able to cook a meal in her own kitchen some day.
Last Christmas I was able to help Meg get into a rooming house, by paying a small deposit the landlord required. The place is crawling with bedbugs but at least she’s out of the cold at night.
But just a few weeks ago she found out the building is planned for demolition and she’ll be evicted.
So now I’m trying to help Meg find an affordable apartment, which means under $625/month. Not an easy task. But despite several setbacks, she and I continue to hope.
Setbacks? Just this one, seemingly simple endeavour of applying for an apartment, is incredibly difficult for someone like Meg. She has no cell phone. No internet access in her rooming house. No current drivers license. No previous rental references… all required items on the rental application. She doesn’t have a good credit rating. She has no funds in her bank account. These are all strikes against her in her quest to find an apartment.
I wish I had a magic wand. I wish there was an easier way for Meg to help herself out of her current situation. I’ve spoken to several wonderful people who deal with this kind of situation day in and day out, as part of their work. It’s a huge issue. Meg is one of many in the same situation.
She’s really just the same as you and me… we all need people in our life who will believe in us.
Here’s hoping I either find that magic wand, or I find a landlord willing to take a chance on a young woman just trying to raise herself up from a really tough life.