Help Tanya Get Out From The Cold

Looks Can Be Deceiving

This well-dressed and put-together woman, Tanya, is actually homeless.  I cannot provide Tanya's full name here because she wants to keep it private particularly for job opportunities.  I met Tanya at this same Wendy's, where I took this picture of her sleeping on a table, about 3 months ago while having a quick meal. She never allowed me to take a facial picture because she is very private and shy, and being of Chinese heritage, her situation is considered very shameful in her culture.

The first time I saw Tanya, she sat at the table next to me with her back facing me. I noticed that despite the 95-degree temperatures outside, she was wearing a small ski jacket with the hood covering her hair at the time. I watched her for a while as I ate my hamburger. While I ate my burger, she neatly placed napkins all over the table and then proceeded to clip her nails. After finishing, she neatly collected all the waste and threw it in the garbage. My curiosity was peaked. Here was a composed woman who clearly lacked access to a level of privacy I take for granted. She had a carry-on luggage case with her along with a plastic bag.

As I finished my meal, I debated what to do. I did not want to offend her, but I also wanted to see if there was any way I might be able to help. I decided to approach her. I asked her if she was homeless, and she indeed confirmed that, indeed, she was. She explained to me that she sleeps during the day at either this Wendy's, the local library, or on the bus. She continued on, explaining, that she sleeps during the day because is too scared to sleep at night because she is often forced to spend her time outdoors, making use of a small number of benches and courtyards she finds the safest. She passes each night sitting on a bench, waiting from midnight until 5:00 AM, when a local Starbucks opens, at which time she hauls her carry-on luggage with her to get into the warmth of the Starbucks cafe.

I found myself asking Tanya how she came to find herself homeless. Clearly, Tanya did not want things to end up with homelessness, but they did.

Tanya was born in Beijing China in 1960. She was smart and successful, she earned a degree and ultimately became a dentist. However, while she was studying at her university, Tanya developed a brain tumor. Early intervention meant that Tanya was able to survive and finish her studies. She even met a nice man, got married and had a daughter. However, her marriage did not last and Tanya chose to emigrate to the United States with her daughter. Shortly after moving to the U.S. Tanya fell in loved and got married. While her personal life was coming together, unfortunately, her professional life was tougher than expected. You see, even though Tanya was a dentist in China, she found that she would have to take the dental exam in California if she wanted to practice again. However, Tanya was not deterred, instead, she found work as a dental assistant and studied to take the dental board exam. However, Tanya was not able to retake her board exam. After being diagnosed with and undergoing treatment for yet another brain tumor, Tanya suffered from mental illness. Shortly after her treatment, Tanya’s marriage fell apart. After her divorce, ever resilient, Tanya rented an apartment where she supported herself and her daughter until her daughter left for college. Tanya thought she had made it through it all by then. She had survived two brain surgeries and two divorces still able to take care of herself and send her daughter off to college. However, about a year ago, Tanya lost her job. When she was unable to find another job, she soon lost her apartment. After living in her car for 3 months Tanya ran out of money to make her car payments and had to return the car to the dealership. She tried sleeping in shelters but quickly realized that they not only put her in close proximity with people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction but also were hotbeds of theft. Since then, Tanya has been on her own, living on the streets.

You may ask why Tanya does not get help from her daughter.  She actually does get some limited help but her daughter works in Sacramento over 150 miles away. Her daughter works for the government for very low wages living in a one bedroom apartment with her fiance.  Tanya's daughter tries to either deliver or send her mother up to $300/month and also pays for Tanya's flip phone subscription and storage costs for storing what Tanya had left from the apartment she had to leave.  This is the best that she can do at this time.  In addition, Tanya does not want to intrude on her daughters' life at this critical time before her daughter gets married.

Talking with Tanya, I am amazed, she is not at all what I thought a homeless person would be like. She is smart, well-educated, and resilient. Tanya has survived more than most.

However, winter is coming and I want to make sure Tanya has what she needs to make it through. Please consider supporting Tanya so that she can.

1) Rent a room in a house or apartment, which in her area costs an average of $1,000/mo.
2) Receive medical treatment, formally get her on medical.
3) Help her get on the EBT food stamp program and possibly social security disability plan.
4) Find a job, preferably in her field of expertise as a dental assistant.
5) Get her back on her feet, open a bank account get her back on track with her credit score, save for the purchase of a used car.

Between the money I have donated and the clothes and foodI have purchased for Tanya, I have spent roughly $1,000 of my own money.  I just have a simple low paying job and I can't afford the money required to get Tanya on her feet.  It breaks my heart to see Tanya in this situation. Would you please help me to help Tanya at least get a single room in a house or apartment for at least 6 months so that she can stay warm and be able to concentrate on getting back on her feet instead of concentrating on surviving each night. She has already begun working on her resume and preparing for her job search. What she needs first though, is a safe place to sleep at night that is warm and friendly.

Additional information:

My name is Tom Pintacsi.  I am Tanya's friend that just posted this story on GoFundMe and I am working to have Tanya be able to rent a room to sleep in for at least 6 months during the winter season.  I will be the custodian of the funds with the fiduciary duty of paying for her eventual room and anything else she will need to get back on her feet.

Thank you for all you do!
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Tom Pintacsi 
San Jose, CA
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