Donna is a single mother of five children. She has been homeless for about a year, choosing to live in a tent by the river instead of staying in a shelter. Although she has encountered unthinkable dangers while living outside- vandalism, assault- she still prefers this over staying in a shelter. This may seem counter-intuitive to those who have never been homeless. But remember that shelters have increasingly become overcrowded, so the lines for a bed, food, and showers have become longer and longer. Besides, Donna says she doesn’t feel safe anywhere.
I met Donna at the Prado Day Center. She caught my attention because she was there both as a client and as a volunteer. She was doing laundry for other homeless people using the day center. She mentions that she has gone weeks without clean clothes, so she appreciates what clean clothes will mean to other folks at the center. (Learn more about Laundry Love and become involved in your community.)
My heart breaks for Donna and all of the other women I see living alone on the streets. Nobody wants to imagine their mother or grandmother living in a vulnerable situation. But the sad reality of homelessness today is that many ladies living without a home look just like my grandmother.