I have had both negative and positive responses to my living in a shelter. I would be walking down the street and someone would come up to me and want to know if I had any spare change because they are hungry due to the fact they are homeless. When I would tell them I am homeless also, they looked at me like I was lying to them. I don’t dress like the stereotyped picture of being homeless. The look of homelessness is not the same as it was before.
Another incident was at my last job, I let them know I was living in a shelter and had a curfew to return to the building and the last bus from downtown left at 11:42 pm. If I missed it, I would have to walk from downtown to 13th & Wabash. They would always let other people with cars leave early and I would have to stay. I didn’t make enough to afford a taxi home. The job was semi-part-time. I was lucky to work 24 hours in 2 weeks. They told me if I couldn’t work the venue as scheduled, maybe I should not work at all. It was a mutual separation.
For the positive reaction, it was one which came from an unexpected source. In Sept./Oct. 2010, I was hospitalized for 3 weeks due to my heart condition. During that 3 weeks, I went into cardiac arrest and died. It only took the Code Blue Team about 2 minutes to get me back. My husband and I knew the bill was going to be extremely high. A lady, by the name of Michelle Clarke, worked in the financial aid department. She came to take down some information when we told her that we lived at City Union Mission’s Family Center, she was surprised. We told her our circumstances that brought us here. She told us that she donates to the Mission several times a year, but has never met anyone that the Mission helped. We were the first and she said she was glad her donations were going for something good, that she will donate more often and get her friends and family to do the same.
We believe that from meeting her, in some way she may have helped to have my hospital bill to be paid in full, all $188,000. Whether you get negative or positive reactions, you may want to consider the source and let God handle them.
(Lee Ann is a participant in the New Life Program at City Union Mission)