For some of us, only one medical emergency, or one pay cut, or one traffic citation separates us from experiencing homelessness. Oftentimes as a society, we assume that the folks we see on on the streets of our neighborhoods have a story of how they got there that is far from relatable, but nothing could be further from the truth. In actuality, much of the population experiencing homelessness in Orange County fell on difficult times that were unexpected and the product of a series of unfortunate events or one crucial happenstance; Sherry is one such person. She opened up to the Local Compassion team at Eastside about her current situation and needs, this is her story.
Sherry didn’t lose her job, she never subscribed to a life of drugs that consumed her income, she owns a car. However, she did lose a roommate, and that one isolated change in the lives of Sherry and her teenage daughter was detrimental to their way of living. Despite her efforts in posting multiple ads in search of a replacement roommate to assist with the rent of their apartment, no solution was found. Sherry was forced to move her and her daughter out of their home, with couch surfing from acquaintance to acquaintance being the only viable option.
As the saying goes though, ‘when there’s a will, there’s a way”, and for Sherry, her precious daughter was, and remains, her will to survive. She explained in her interview that she no longer had many friends to rely on, losing each one of them to a life of drugs she had no intention on entering. Her daughter, she explained, is all the high she’d ever need.
In order for her daughter to stay in the school she loved with the friends she’d made, Sherry picked up a secondary part-time job to help with her family’s expenses and keep them in the same location. After moving around between numerous motels in town, she was able to discover, on her own, housing she could afford--an accomplishment of huge proportion! The only hurdle keeping her from immediately moving into the safety of this shelter was the ability to provided first and last month’s rent payment, a cost Eastside was able to provide out of the generosity of its community.
Sherry has overcome the adversity that has faced her at each turn, and though the cost of shelter almost exasperates her monthly income every 30 days, she utilizes the assistance of gas gift cards and food stamps to get by. Her heart, though still facing daily struggles, remains steadfast for her daughter, using her limited resources to further her teenager’s life, like offering the one bedroom to her daughter--a gift of privacy the young girl had yet to experience.
Eastside met with Sherry as she was making the transition into her new home and heard her pure heart for her family and immediate need she possessed for moving into their new-found apartment. Eastside jumped in with both feet and with the assistance of other willing community members, the family of two was moved in the following weekend and gifted with the comforts of home, including a brand new bed with bedding, a sofa, and a kitchen full of necessities, including a full fridge of food.
Homelessness doesn’t always show it’s face in ways we are familiar with seeing, no, it likes to make victims of the least expected individuals and families in our community. So how is it that we combat against this and keep our neighbors and friends like Sherry from stumbling into the cycle of homelessness? We join together and offer what we can, be it our hands, our physical resources or a listening ear. **Enter bravely forward tie in, “it’s not natural to look outside our circumstances to catch someone else currently falling through society’s overlooked cracks, but to look for these individuals is the bravest step we could take”