The Adventure of Writing a Book, Part 10

Helping the Homeless

Last month, just before the wonder and excess of Thanksgiving weekend, I attended a Hunger & Homeless Banquet and Soup Luncheon in Leland NC.

The luncheon was put on by the Brunswick County Homeless Coalition. Several speakers from state and local agencies/organizations that work with homeless people gave short talks.  Also speaking were several former homeless people who now have jobs and homes. They confirmed everything I have learned in my last six months of talking with homeless people here and in other areas across the United States.

Homeless people are not necessarily lazy, alcoholic or addicted to drugs. They’re not homeless because they don’t want to work. Trust me, no one wants to sleep on a park bench, under the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk or in an abandoned house or barn. No one wants to live in their car for three years. No one wants to hold up a cardboard sign and beg for food next to a highway entrance.

Granted, there are homeless people who suffer from addiction, depression and/or mental illness and they need our help.  But, many of them are in this terrible situation due to circumstances beyond their control like a sudden illness, accident, loss of job or spouse, a fire. I have heard stories over the past six months that shocked and horrified me. As I listened, I thought: “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”

We live in a complex, detail-oriented world.  What do you do when you have no documentation?  No way to prove who you are?  No driver’s license, birth certificate,  cell phone, credit card, or bank account?  No Facebook, I-Pad, car, apartment or house?   

Many homeless children and adults are illiterate. How can they hold down a job or attend school if they cannot read or write? Even a waitress, cleaning woman, mechanic and dog sitter must fill out forms, write orders.

In addition, many homeless people are financially illiterate. They don’t understand how checkbooks, saving accounts and credit cards work. It they manage to get a cash-paying job, how do they pay rent, buy food, save for a rainy day? How can they qualify for a rental apartment or a mortgage? How can they buy a car to get to work?

These individuals are stuck in a precarious place where they must live from day to day, hour to hour, finding food in dumpsters or food pantries. When they get sick, they go to emergency rooms instead of a doctor’s office.

My next book, “Losing It”, will focus on a woman (Laura) who becomes homeless to escape a killer. This is the most exciting thing I’ve ever written.

Stay tuned from more installments of “The Adventure of Writing a Book”.

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