Library Diva's Guide to Volunteering…

{January 26, 2011}   Homeless

In the matter of 3 hours I had 2 families who were once homeless come in to see me to work off some workfare volunteer hours. The first was a mom with 6 sons ranging from 1 year to 23 years old. She had been homeless, living with friends here and there until she was able to get into an apartment. She was given some assistance for her rent and part of that assistance requirement is to volunteer with community service as a pay back.

I keep lots of toys in my office and as the boys played, their mom and her fiance filled out the paperwork and told me their story. She was interesting. She had been a massage therapist and had done really well at one point, but with the economy, more and more of her clients had stopped coming to her, budgeting their needs and wants, and using any extra money they had to pay for the things that were necessary. Massages are nice to have but not too many are necessary although many of us think they are.

I set them up on a volunteer assignment and plan and as they were leaving my office noticed my tub of canned food that I keep. She hadn’t received her food stamps yet and could they take some ravioli and soup? I gave them a bag and they cleaned my out. Boys are big eaters.

That family actually wore me out too, so as I regrouped and answered some voice mail, I reflected on how things have could have unraveled for her.

About a half hour later, there was a knock on my office door and in came another woman. Soft spoken, kind and in need of workfare hours as well. She had been homeless too, but she had sent her children away, finding places for them to live while she and her boyfriend lived out of her car. She still had a job, but working at McDonald’s and having 3 boys wasn’t enough to be able to keep an apartment. Between her, her boyfriend, her brother and his girlfriend, they all were able to pull enough together to get an apartment, but this month they needed rent assistance and in turn needed to do workfare. Her youngest son came back to her just in time for Christmas. I’m meeting with her tomorrow to discuss her plan and get her set up. I’m sure I’ll hear more of her story then.

It’s amazing that we live in one of the richest counties in our state and there are homeless families that are struggling daily. If you are able, please continue to donate food, blankets and clothing to shelters, food banks and community centers.

You don’t want to look too deeply in to how people have gotten there, just accept that they are there now and need a kind word or a helping hand. You may not see it as much as I do, but there is a need more than you may know.


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