Thursday, July 10, 2014


Behind the front door a pile of turquoise, tan, pink and white striped towels start to mildew underneath two shiny, black Hefy cinch sacks. The washer and dryer are broken as they have been for some time. Each visit we try to problem solve. What can you do I ask them. How can you take care of it? How can you turn soggy, smelly dirty laundry into linen scented cleanness is what I want to shout at them. Instead we talk about going to the laundromat. They keep telling me that is what they plan on doing. I think we both know they are lying.

A fifty pound bag of Ol' Roy Complete Nutrition is opened and propped up against the sticky fridge. I envision thousands of hungry ants climbing inside it in search of dinner.The white paint is chipped on the child's tiny bike with training wheels and a falling apart basket that is parked in the middle of the kitchen.

Every space is littered with something. A yellow McDonald's wrapper is crumpled up in the corner of the dark living room. Granola bar crumbs cover the floor by the couch. The silver wrappers are strung out nearly twelve inches.

The wooden table is home to a half filled, partially crushed Monster can. Six orange plastic cereal bowls are piled up -some still full of soggy cereal and stinky, warm milk.

His father stays in bed during the two hour visit. He is just so tired she explains. He has sleep apnea and so he must stay up until six a.m. playing Grand Theft Auto. It's the only thing that helps him sleep she tells me. People just don't understand.

Blue-eyed and chubby cheeked, the baby coos and squeals in his crib. He stretches as far as he can, grabbing his soft foot and sucking on his toes.

They get six hours a week with their six month old son.

He starts to fuss and she says "we just have to let him cry it out. Aunt Kelly said."

It doesn't matter what I think, what I would do. I do not get to scoop him up to comfort him. Dad stumbles out of bed, rubbing his eyes and mumbling about needing a cigarette. They walk back into the bedroom and turn on Netflix as they ignore his babbles and squeals.

I sit in the corner feeling powerless in this job of mine.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Our weekend:

We saw fireworks.

We went to a concert.

Rachel Reinert of  Gloriana

Tom Gossin

He swam.

She dressed up like Laura Ingalls Wilder.

We slept here.

Alli Gator slept next to us.

The boys fished here.

How was your Fourth of July?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Hand Up

**This post was originally published on July 9, 2013 and is a glimpse into my work life.

I went to a homeless shelter tonight. It wasn't my first time and it won't be my last.

It was one of the nicest I've been in- a rambling two story house with large bedrooms for single people, two donated leather couches and a television in the "family room."

Families are housed in other buildings on the property in what can best be described as micro studio for 3 twin beds, a bassinet and changing table, a small square kitchen table and 4 chairs. A window air conditioner buzzes in the background. It's almost comfortable in the scorching 103 heat. Pots, pans, plates and dishes are provided. There is a playground with donated tricycles and a few stray soccer balls.

During the house meeting residents share their job search efforts. Katie, the director encourages each one to meet with her so she can help set up a budget. Working residents need to show pay stubs and spending receipts. Others need to spend the day applying for jobs. Self sufficiency is the goal. Toilet paper, toothpaste and personal care products have been donated and Katie tells them to take what they need on their way out.

People are extremely grateful for the school supplies donated by the hospital. A white haired woman shyly asks if she might be given a spiral notebook too. She smiles and does a tiny clap with her hands.

Donors have expressed interest in buying school clothes and they are asked to write down children's sizes. They are hoping every child will be able to start school with a pair of shoes that fit.

Wearing a white peasant top with a baby on her hip, Jessie is asked to share her story. Shy at first, looking down at her shoes and then using the pudgy legged diaper clad baby as a shield she begins to speak. She's moving to Oregon tomorrow. She starts a job in 4 days. Staying here has allowed her to save enough money to go back out there. To live in a small apartment where she can make her own rules. Where there aren't any curfews to follow. Where she'll have to buy her own toilet paper and toothpaste. Where she'll be back on her own two feet again.

She is thankful for her time here.

Looking for a hand up not a hand out.

Please consider reaching out to a shelter near you by finding your state here.