It happened suddenly. And one day it ended.
I was a productive member of society, had a good job, attended school, raised a family, and was leading the good life when all of a sudden it came to an end—through no fault of my own.
It could happen to you. You become penniless, not knowing when you will have an income again or be able to purchase items you could in the past. You don’t know where you will sleep for the night nor when you will find permanent shelter. Where will your next meal come from?
Homelessness can happen to anyone.
On my first night of homelessness I slept on my suitcase. At the time I was in Rhode Island, it gets quite cold there. I was then led to a day shelter called Traveler’s Aid. In the evenings we were bused from there to the Welcome Arnold overnight shelter in nearby Cranston, which was a renovated jail. Beds and hot meals were provided.
Other times I would avoid the cold in hotel bathrooms or hidden in the basement at my daughter’s apartment.
While homeless, the one thing I relied on the most was my coat. It wasn’t just any coat. While probably not too expensive, it didn’t belong on the street. It was black, mid-length and fur lined. It kept me warm on the nights I had to spend outdoors and served as a cover for my time at the Travelers Aid. Needless to say, my black coat with its padded materials, kept me warm.
Sometimes I had to look inward for warmth, so I would compose and sing songs to myself.
Homelessness is demeaning.
I have found that a variety of places provide help to the homeless. Churches such as the Salvation Army provide homeless shelters, hot meals, or sometimes cover the cost of a motel room. Food kitchens allow people to cook a meal. Community gardens can provide food fresh vegetables.
On one particular night I going to the Rhode Island area. I stopped in Connecticut and managed to pay for a week’s shelter at the International Hotel. But knowing full well my destination was Rhode Island (where I was from) I decided to leave my paid-for room and continue my journey. I was going home. That’s where my family was.
I reached my home state and I went to the Warwick Mall. Things became difficult and I became upset. The police were called and they informed me that I could “stay outside.” I crossed the street and decided to bed down at the abandoned greenhouse.
On the night I stayed at the greenhouse, I needed to use the bathroom. I leaned back, and much to my surprise, the door to the building opened. I went in, and used the bathroom. Later I discovered that I had left my tennis shoes behind.
Anything helps when you are homeless.
What I remember most was how it all ended. I finally began receiving disability payments and had an income. Then my daughter purchased a home in Rhode Island, which could house two families. She allowed me to stay there. I finally had a home again in secluded, serene, wooded surroundings. That was when I felt safe again.
After a time of stability, I was able to relocate to another city.
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Speak Up writer and vendorhas started her own publication: Ruth's Life. She sketches and shares audio updates from her daily journey.
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