“Sometimes I’ll save enough that I can get a room for a few days, but then something like this happens: I got sick with bronchitis and asthma and haven’t been able to work for two weeks. I’ve been participating in the Room in the Inn program though, so I’ve had a place to lay my head. I’m better now, and I’ll be able to go back to work next week. Also, I’ve gotten a second job, which is about to start. My husband is out here right now too and he just got approved for an apartment through The HUB, so we’ll definitely be off the streets this month.
“I’ve never been afraid out here. I know pretty much everybody. They wouldn’t let anything happen to me. One friend always asks, ‘You okay, Sister? Nobody messing with you, are they? You fine? You straight?’ I’ll be like, ‘I’m okay.’ If you’re around these people all the time and you go to the homeless feedings, maybe you’re at a shelter with them, you know them. And when they’re not around, you worry about them. I do. I worry. I think, ‘I wonder what happened to So-and-So?’ And my husband might tell me, ‘Oh I think he went to jail. He got in trouble.’ I don’t want to see nobody in jail but I would rather not see something worse happen to them. We’re all like family. If one don’t have something, somebody else has it. I carry stuff in my bag and if somebody needs something, I’ll give it to them: a snack, an extra pair of gloves, extra socks, a few dollars. I’ll give it to them. Anything I got. A lot of the homeless people I know are wearing better shoes and better clothes than people who work a job every day, and that’s because a lot of those are donations from churches who help the homeless. Like I didn’t have a pair of shoes in the summer --- mine were all tore up --- and I got a new pair from a ministry here in Memphis. There was a guy I talked to just this morning and all he had on were flip-flops --- and it so cold outside --- so I told him I’d keep my eyes open for shoes his size next time I go to a clothes closet.
“I was raised in a family, my same mom and dad. My brother’s got an education, I’ve got an education, and now I’m out here. Just because you don’t have a roof over your head, that doesn’t change who you are. If you were raised on the streets from when you were a little baby and that’s all you know, that’s where people are getting that image. You live what you learn, and you learn what you live. When you get into a bad place, that doesn’t automatically change you; you’re just struggling. Then you have to decide if you’re going to let it define you. You have to decide if you’re going to make this a lifestyle. I’ve had a little bit of a bad time, but I’m trying. I’m working, I do my best to stay clean and wear clean clothes, and I try to be friendly and kind to people. I always try to keep a good spirit and a good attitude.”