1.31.2004

coldest longest days

This article from the Missoulian is about their recent memorial service for the 13 homeless who passed away in the city last year. Missoula is a very hard place to be homeless, with winters that are regularly below freezing for weeks at a time, and usually quite a bit of snow and ice. Luckily there are places like the Povarello Center, but there is never enough room or food for everyone who needs it. I'm very thankful that my family has always had everything they need - home, good food, medical care, etc., and has been spoiled with internet connections, television, videos, and music. We are very lucky. I met a woman in a college sociology class who had been homeless after her husband went into the hospital for heart treatment and she couldn't pay the bills. She sold their house and lived in a cardboard box that she shared with another homeless woman she had met. She ate from dumpsters, and the whole sociology class spent an afternoon dumpster diving around Walla Walla, finding things that might be edible. I was surprised how much good food is thrown away, but that didn't make it any more appetizing once it's come out of a dumpster (particularly behind the frat houses). She didn't tell any of her children or family members she was homeless, because she was ashamed and she didn't want to burden them by coming to live with them. She must have gotten back on her feet somehow, to be in a college sociology class, and that's good. So many people have problems that make it difficult for them to ever gain a footing in "society" the way it is set up - regular jobs, rent, bills. Hopefully organizations will continue to improve in providing ways to help them survive. If it's this hard for people who have been out in work force to find a job, imagine being someone on the fringes. I guess part of the reason I empathize with homeless people is that I've never considered it impossible that one day that could be me. Things happen that you never would expect, and you can't predict the future. So, appreciate the good things you have - your computer access, your warm meals, your comfy furniture, because someone else out there doesn't have any of it.

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