Me: I asked you here today so that you could share with others a little bit about yourself. Help us get to know the real people behind the label. If you don’t want to share how you ended up here, that’s fine, but could you share with us your experience staying at The Refuge?
Mary: It’s been really great. I’ve met so many people I never would have met before and it’s been Interesting.
Me: Have you ever been homeless before?
Mary: No. No, this is the first time, so it’s like taught me something. But the whole reason I ended up like this is because (my daughter and her husband) they were getting kicked out and I didn’t want her to come into a shelter alone because of her seizures. Since they can’t sleep in the same area together and she sometimes has them in her sleep. If she had one while staying in the shelter, at least I was there. I was living in Tennessee.
Me: Ok, so you came here to Michigan and into shelter because of your daughter.
Me: Ok. Talk to me about the volunteers (of The Refuge) now. What would you say to them?
Mary: Oh, all the volunteers are really nice. They are very helpful and really nice. They help you, you know if they don’t have something that you like, they say “well we can go get it for you”. They’re really nice.
Me: The Refuge is getting ready to close. You just told me the good news that you just got a job at Taco Bell, so yay! What are your plans though for after we’re closed?
Mary: I don’t know if my boyfriend and I are going to stay or move back to Tennessee or what. I know I got to catch up on my car payments, and on my phone…right now my car is shut off. It’s got an electric thing in it and I haven’t made a payment so they shut it off. I call them every two weeks and they ask me, “So what’s your progress?” and I say I’m working on it. Now I got that job at Taco Bell and they said they would work with me.
Me: That’s good. So, while your tying up loose ends will you have a place to stay?
Me: Alright, good. What would you like to say to the community of Lapeer regarding what you think needs to change to help those that are homeless?
Mary: They need to have a place to go to during the day, especially during the winter time. You know the library doesn’t open until 9am and on Sunday it doesn’t open until 1pm. Not everybody wants to go to the Golden Arrow (drop in center for community mental health consumers). Not everybody can go to the Golden Arrow, so people are walking around cold. It would be nice especially for like, Craig, who worked at night and had no place to sleep during the day.
Me: Yeah, that was really hard for him. What else would you like to say to Lapeer about homelessness?
Mary: Don’t label the homeless. You gotta get to know them. Just try and help them. They’re good people. Just because they’re homeless doesn’t mean they can’t do anything. Just give them a chance.
Me: Alright. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me.