Friday, September 21, 2012

Being homeless again

Some of you already know this. I am going to tell the rest of you. My life as a homeless advocate will continue, but I've had a major emergency that included a move, and am looking for another job. I became homeless again. 

On the one year anniversary of my mother's death, her worst fear for me came true. It's really not so bad. Yes, I'm technically "homeless again" My first goal was not to tell anyone. I actually thought I was going to be sleeping on the streets but I managed to get a bed at the Salvation Army on Luckie Street. And make enough hours to become a paying customer. At $10 a night, living right in the middle of Downtown Atlanta, is actually pretty nice. I didn't want too many people to know because I thought my boss would freak. He paid our rent when my mother and I were homeless. I had to pay him back, but he's looked out for me so much at times I think of him as an uncle or adoptive big brother. Actually, when he found out where I was, his reaction was "I'm relieved you are out of that hotel," Then he asked, "Are you safe, what about your belongings, do you have bathroom privacy, and do you have a kitchen?" I answered, "Yes, they are in storage, yes, and they feed us twice a day," 

What happened was that my boss had to cut hours for many of his employees. And though I've been putting in applications and trying to find another job, it's hard. I am leaning on jewelry sales to cover Marta Card costs, coffee at shops where I can get free Wifi, and supplies to make more jewelry. I don't have to worry about food. I've been eating at work, and the shelter provides two meals.  My boss has even told me that if I find something better, not to let him hold me back. He knows I am looking and is very supportive. 

I have met so many people in the short span of an almost month. I've met a Nonprofit Organization Executive who has fallen on hard times. I've met a recovering narcotics addict who prostitutes just so she can get food or clothes her size. I've met a young stud who just made the switch from being gay to accepting the fact that she's in love with a man and will be having his baby. I've met a soon to be mother who just moved out of the shelter and into a home in Marietta, with a new job as well. I've met a Wiccan who loves gemstones as much as I do. We've exchanged books, learned about gemstones, and encourage one another.  There was one girl who gave me hair gel when I ran out. Another one bought the Herkimer Diamond in 14K Gold and a pair of gold earrings that I made. One lady works at the Waffle House and she's devout. She prays like a preacher would--on and on and on. Her love for God is vast and she makes sure that everyone knows it. 

I was living at the Savannah Suites on Pine Street. It's right across from the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless. Everyone in the shelter with me agrees that place is a last resort type of place that one would go to ONLY if it were raining. In other words, many of the ladies I share a dorm with would prefer sleeping on the sidewalk in a Midtown park to staying at task force. I don't blame them. I've lived across the street from them for four years and had to literally fight at times just to go to work. 

I didn't expect the relief of not having to fight, duck and dodge the grown men on that corner until I became homeless again. I get up, go to Centennial Park, meditate and watch the sun rise every morning. If it's raining, I hang out at the CNN center until I have to go to work. 

As for Art4TheHomeless, I had to put my work in the nonprofit to the side for now. Hart is the CEO and a good friend. I won't be able to work on the Art4TH Zine for a while until I am able to get another job that will enable me to save money. My sole focus at this time is on myself. I'll see the nonprofit through World Homeless Action Day, will still be on as Vice President, but the nonstop work on the website, webzine, and promotions will be limited. There's no wifi at the shelter. And i need to mainly focus on me, selling my jewelry, and doing a bit more than surviving. My goal is to thrive and bring as many people up with me as I can. 

For those of you who I told that I was moving in with a friend, I lied. I didn't want you to worry about me and I didn't want pity either. I'm tired of struggling so I reached out for help and got it. For lying to you, I apologize. Being homeless is one of those things that's hard to tell someone. 

When you tell people you are homeless, they look at you differently, as if you are a criminal or a bug. I don't want any of my friends to see me in that light. I've done no crime and can't stand bugs. I didn't want to tell anyone because I don't want to be judged or looked down upon. 

Many homeless advocates have been homeless before. It's why they became advocates. And being in my situation now, has inspired me to work harder at being an advocate. I have a voice. I am visible because I choose to be. I'm not on the corner begging, chances are I'm serving YOU at my job. And now that I'm paying rent, I'm techincally no longer homeless :) 

My goal is to save money. I eventually want to pay back the bank (overdrafted $500 to pay rent at the Sav. Suites) but until then I'm saving the money on my prepaid debit card. 


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