GIBSON-HYE MOORE COLUMN - Homelessness does not descriminate
There’s a testimony that I’d like to share with you and others that will allow you an insight into my past of homelessness. Many individuals associate homelessness with laziness or drugs. In some instances this is true, but in 85 percent of homeless cases that assumption is a myth.
When I was in my sophomore year of college in New York City, my father, an Army veteran of 30 years, died. His death took a great toll on me. To make matters worse, at the beginning of my senior year, my mother died.
I was depressed and confused, but was determined to continue my studies. I worked part time, but my salary wasn’t enough to pay the rent and utilities. A few months after my mother’s death, I was evicted from our apartment and was left homeless.
I was an only child and my paternal grandparents had both also died during my junior year. I refused to drop out of college and move south with my maternal grandmother. I did not know it at that time, but I later learned that I was adopted and had relatives living in the city.
The first night after being evicted from our apartment, I rode the subway all night. I was alone and confused. I didn’t attend classes the next morning, but instead walked the streets of New York City all day trying to figure out what I was going to do. I had to complete school, so I knew giving up was not an option.
I finally decided to throw pride to the side and asked a friend if their mother would let me stay with them for a few nights. My friend’s parents allowed me to stay. I slept on their living room sofa for a few months until I graduated and got a full time job. I tried not to eat much, because I needed the money for transportation and bills.
Even though I didn’t have it as hard as some of the homeless individuals that I now encounter everyday, I understand their plight and know that many of our homeless individuals and families in Florence are just looking for the same opportunity that I once searched for - redemption.
By working together, we can all help make it happen. House of Hope of the Pee Dee has a plan (see story on front page of today’s edition) to build 24 little houses on Darlington Street on property owned by House of Hope. The little houses will afford some individuals now in shelters and some on the street an opportunity to transition back into mainstream society and again become productive citizens of the Florence community.
This project cannot happen without the help of every media outlet and business. We need you to help advertise, help garner donations, but most of all to open your hearts and your minds to make this happen. We must eliminate the word can’t and won’t from our vocabulary and replace those two words with can and will.
We estimate this project will cost in the range of approximately $400,000. We will accept monetary as well as in-kind donations.
This project will be launched from Nov. 1 and run through December. There will be much more information provided to you. Please share this information with the individuals in your organization that can and will help to make this happen.
You never know when the homeless shoe might fit your foot.