Yesterday, I was walking around handing out socks to homeless people in Venice Beach when I happened upon a small cluster of tents. I talked to a few of the people living there and told them that I would be back today with wipes. Often called “bath in a bag” or “shower in a bag,” baby wipes are desperately needed on the streets.
Tonight while keeping my promise and handing out wipes I ran into an older woman who was trying to make a home for the night. Every morning at 6 am, police come and make everyone tear down their tents. For the growing number of homeless seniors out on the streets, the daily existence living without a home is overwhelming.
I asked Michelle if she would like some wipes. She responded, “I’ll take as many as you can give.” I then asked her how she ended up homeless in Venice Beach. We sat down on the sidewalk together, and she started to share. Michelle’s story is heartbreaking.
“I never asked to be homeless here in Venice. It just happened to me”, Michelle starts her story. A friend talked her into moving to California after a bad divorce. Michelle had her own business grooming pets and boarding dogs. She lived on a farm with her ex-husband. Michelle continues “I got to where I thought I was better than anybody myself. Now, look at me.”
At one point, Michelle turned to me and said she cannot continue. I kept recording by instinct. I asked Michelle about her most recent stroke six days ago, and she kept on talking. After, Michelle was okay that I didn’t stop.
Michelle’s purse was stollen with her identification. A friend helped buy a bus ticket. The first driver allowed her to get on the bus without ID. The second driver wasn’t so flexible. They threw Michelle out on the streets of Downtown Los Angeles at 3:30 in the morning. This was her first time on L.A. and her first time homeless. Michelle met a few homeless people that took her to a safe place.
Michelle is determined to get herself off the streets and out of homelessness. Although she has health issues, she is a strong woman. She is doing everything in her power to better her life, but the truth is there are not enough resources for all the people who need our help. We need to change that. Everyone in Los Angeles County must work to end homelessness before more people die outside on the streets!