by: Ginny Going
I knew nothing of the realities of homelessness until getting to know Darryl and Jeanette. This is a couple who were sleeping in the doorway of the Hope Center last summer and fall. Regardless of how this came to be, what was clear to me from the beginning of our friendship was their love for each other and their strong determination to move out of homelessness and build a future off the streets. I saw their deeply rooted faith in God, the enormous amount of time and energy it took each day to navigate the necessities of life AND find and engage with organizations that might assist. Walking everywhere, carrying their belongings, trying to stay warm as the weather turned cold, encountering confusing, conflicting information about where and how to get help – this was their daily reality. One episode that sticks in my mind is going with them to a church-based food pantry whose long list of requirements to receive one bag of groceries seemed unnecessarily invasive and dehumanizing to me
There were wonderful moments of celebrating, too – both of them getting jobs as Salvation Army bell ringers at Christmas, their move into an efficiency apartment with help from government “rapid rehousing” funds (they are not rapid!), part-time jobs for Darryl and Jeanette through Jeanette’s church. (But to get to these jobs required several bus trips and walking long distances home late at night). And they both experienced serious health problems during this time. Then this summer a car from Wheels for Hope! I’ve been richly blessed by this friendship and grateful for what I’ve learned.