Yesterday morning, as I was dropping the boys off at school, I saw the same woman walking on the shoulder of a busy road and I knew I had to stop. I didn't want to freak her out, so I waited until she approached where I was parked and said, "Good morning, I'm a JA mom and I have noticed you walking your son from school, can I give you a ride somewhere". After a bit of hesitation, she accepted my offer and off we went. Her smile was one you don't see often these days...it was genuine, kind and inviting. She asked me to drive her down the road about 4 miles. I asked her if that was where she lived, she said she no, that she had a job interview today. There was a moment of silence (and if you know me, that is a rarity), but I could tell she was in deep thought. She said she needed me to drop her off at her storage unit so that she could get her suit so she could be professionally dressed for her interview later that afternoon.
Then it happened, a moment of raw, unfiltered realness. This stranger I just picked up on the road bravely opened up to me. Elaine and her son, a boy in MY school community, attending school WITH MY children was homeless. She explained to me that they were "displaced" and that she is living on a cot in different churches at night. She wakes up and takes two buses to get her son to school. She then walks to Workforce, to apply for jobs, work on her resume and go on interviews. I was hearing these words, listening to this story and I was sad. I was shocked. I was devastated. Now, I am not naive to the fact that homelessness exists. I have worked in homeless shelters and am aware that it is more of an issue in our backyard then most realize. BUT, when you see it, touch it, look at it right in the face, things change.
Elaine and I first stopped at her small storage unit so that she could get her suit. I noticed her son's shoes, and a football and a basketball, and a twin mattress. Elaine opened a box and retrieved her suit, she brought it back in the car and said, "Here it is, isn't it beautiful!". and it was a beautiful suit. She also gave me her impressive resume and began to open up further. Elaine is educated, has great work experience and references. She had a great job, but last summer, the company she worked for decided to transfer jobs offshore leaving Elaine and others jobless. She actively looked for employment, but had to empty out her savings to pay for basic living expenses. She found herself penniless, and sought advice and resources from her Church family.
Next, we went to Walmart. A friend of hers was aware Elaine had an interview in downtown Denver and did not want her to be in the city without a dollar, so was transferring her some money. She cried when she spoke of this friend and her generosity and kindness. She said I could just drop her there and she would just change in the bathroom and walk to workforce, I had to go grab some things anyway and quite frankly, I was not ready to part ways with my new friend. You see, the thing that was most surprising to me about the whole situation was ELAINE NEVER FELT SORRY FOR HERSELF. She expressed her strong, unwavering faith in the Lord and knew deep down in her soul, that this WAS NOT HER STORY, it was just part of her journey. She was not looking for a HANDOUT, she was just a mom, who had fallen on some tough times that was trying to get back up and try again. Her faith, courage and drive INSPIRED ME.
I met Elaine at the front of the store and was greeted again with that smile. She looked at me and waived $25 in the air and with tears in her eyes, exclaimed her gratitude to her friend. I saw hope in her eyes at that moment and it almost brought me to my knees. At that very moment, I wanted to repent. Here, in front of me was a woman who would wake up in the dark to get on a city bus to take her son to a school that would provide him a good education. A woman that some would say was faced with an insurmountable obstacle in her way, but yet was hopeful.
There was more to my morning with my new friend. We had coffee with my parents, laughed about raising children and shared stories about where we came from. I dropped Elaine at the bus stop so she could get down to Denver in plenty of time for her interview. As I watched her walk away it happened. I cried. I knew it was coming, but not for the reason you may think. I did not cry out of sadness for her situation (although it is sad). I wept tears of gratitude. I am so thankful our paths LITERALLY crossed. The last thing Elaine said to me before getting out of the car was this, "Kate, if someone walked up to me and said there is no God, I would shake them, I would share with them all the little and big things God has moved in my life, both good and bad, and I would yell, YES THERE IS".
Friends, I am sharing this story with you because it has impacted me greatly and I feel you too, will be moved by Elaine. Elaine is currently in a program for a month that will house her in different churches at night and provide meals. After this month, she is confident she will have a job and be able to start saving to buy some sort of vehicle to get her son to school in. I also have Elaine's impressive resume and can forward that on to anyone that may have any job leads.
Luke 14:13-14 "But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
- Chris Levy
- Carol Rumley
- Barbara Orourke
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