**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 apartments...room 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.