Today we took breakfast to a homeless lady. She has been living in her SUV, in a parking lot in Mesa, Arizona, for at least the past month. She doesn’t beg or ask for handouts; she doesn’t call attention to herself in any way. In fact, we wouldn’t have known about her at all if a regular customer of a nearby gas station hadn’t realized she was there for days and posted about her on a local neighborhood website.
A number of people responded to the post. One young man took time to go sit and chat with her. He gave her $20, which she tried to refuse, and his business card. He reported that she is fine, in good spirits and likes people-watching. The gas station is busy, but it’s located in a mostly deserted mall, with a 99-Cent store, a Wendy’s and a Thrift store as the main businesses.
No one knows exactly why this woman is homeless, or what her plans are. People on the website have offered suggestions for organizations that could help, but no one knows if she has tried any of them. She seems content where she is, telling my husband that God is looking out for her. She also told him he “made her day” with his gift of a breakfast sandwich, potatoes and coffee. She seemed about to cry but she told him she was fine.
I wonder at her story. I look around our small home, with all its “stuff” and wonder what it would be like to have only the space of a car for my belongings. And how our dog would feel, without his many beds and toys. The woman has her cat with her, in her small SUV. Would I be so cheerful and kind if we were forced to live that way?
Arizona is a land of opposites, the haves and the have-nots living, often side by side, in stark contrast. I wonder what would happen, if all the “haves” gave a tiny bit to the “have-nots”. If each one helped one person, just a little.
I rarely post my feelings on social media or anywhere else. I don’t get involved in the political debates that so many seem so passionate about or debate the topics of racism or gender bias. These are large battles, breeding large responses and feelings.
This woman is one of the small stories that go largely unnoticed in the clamor of daily news. There are probably hundreds – thousands – like her in towns across America. Their lives don’t generate the interest that the bigger issues do; and yet the need is large and real.
Maybe it’s time to turn away from the “big” news stories and take a look around, in your own little world. Is there a neighbor who needs a helping hand? Is there someone struggling that could benefit from a small act of kindness? What can you do in your neighborhood?
Or maybe you are the one who could use help. Let someone know. Please. There are people who care – everywhere.
I have a motto and a request – Do what you can. As a pastor once told my sister, “I may not be able to do everything, but I can do something.”
Let each one reach one.
“The hope, the love, the remedy
Is in our hands;
Reach out with me”