What is it like to bring in the New Year homeless? For everyone with a home, holidays are spent in an individual state of mind. This is also 50% true for those homeless. However homeless folks are limited to an attitude of positive, negative or oblivion.
For a person who doesn’t have a home, there is no saying,
“To keep positive this holiday I’m not going to stop and see Aunt Suzie and cousin Jack because they were so rude about my divorcing my last husband so screw them.”
The grey area of mind state choice doesn’t exist while being homeless.
Then it depends on the homeless person’s situation and their path of homelessness. If a person is homeless, single and without children most of the homeless folks seek shelter to stay alive and warm.
So this means that if a person doesn’t have any family they feel comfortable with for Christmas or New Years, they are stuck finding somewhere to keep warm during the day. Those homeless folks without family refuge during the holiday are back at the base shelter before 5pm to get a spot on the bus to take them to the church where they spend the night. Most of the churches do take heart on holidays and will offer special food and sometimes gifts that are appreciated. Then it all comes down to an individual state of mind. If the homeless person chooses to feel positive and smile they will, if not then they won’t and then of coarse there is those homeless folks that will change the subject every time the ‘C’ word is spoken.
There is no other way to deal with holidays homeless. Homeless people are at the mercy of how the shelter they are taken too chooses to celebrate the holiday and their emotions.
If a person is homeless with children they are more than likely in a stable temporary shelter. Some of those shelters will allow the folks to stay overnight at family’s home on a holiday but some do not. Some allow curfew to be extended, some actually require the folks staying at their shelter to find somewhere else to go so the shelter can shut down.
This all can be very stressful. If a parent is trying like hell to keep tradition and normalcy active in every way possible while being homeless and they are not allowed to spend Christmas Eve doing routine activities because of curfew or the shelter is shut down, this can be one more traumatic blow for them and ruin the holiday. (As if it isn’t bad enough that you are homeless right?)
If the shelter is shut down and the homeless family doesn’t have anyone that can take them in, and you and your children have to go overnight at the church with the single homeless people, this is another traumatic blow for your children.
However; if a homeless family is lucky to be in a shelter that is ran properly there will be choices and celebration supplies if a family wants and needs them. A parent that is homeless learns fast how to plaster a fake smile on their face and make the holiday as wonderful and peaceful as possible for their children as possible.
Shelter one had lots of gifts that were donated for the parents and children! The NFL team even gave signed jerseys for the Dads that were in shelter! There were bags and bags of toys, so many each child should have gotten at the least five or six.
The children got none. The parents got none. The staff had a wonderful Christmas 2012. It makes me so sick even thinking about it. I bet the NFL never knew, I bet the people that donated never knew. These people that donated gifts for the homeless parents and children never knew that those gifts would never make it to a little girl or boy in need of them; Instead they would make it in the hands of a greedy staff member with a job and a home.
I remember a mother and a little boy who came into ‘shelter one’ at the same time as me and my son did. Her little boy was turning eight and sooo excited about it. I suppose it may have been because my little girl was turning eight, but I was determined for this little guy to have a wonderful birthday.
The mother didn’t have any food stamps left but I had just gotten mine two days before his birthday. So the day before her son’s birthday we went out and we bought all of the trimmings for a birthday party. We had a cake, candy and because we were in shelter, we even knew which little shops we could go into and use my food stamp card for a few non-food item decorations. The night before her son’s birthday my room mate and now forever best friend chipped in and had gotten her boss to buy a couple of gifts that she gave to the mom so she could give them to her son.
It simply was beautiful, I thought.
The day of this child’s birthday we went up to ask staff where we could decorate so we could slice cake and give this child a couple of presents. The staff members answered us with cold rudeness and actually at first told us no! We then were given comments like ‘Ya’ll better be pickin’ that shit up like it never happened.’ and ‘It better not last more than 30 minutes.’ and ‘I guess you can have it in the back room if it is absolutely necessary.’
Just about every single staff member at this shelter was on a work program and only a half of a paycheck away from their children living in this shelter, how dare they? I learned it was an abuse of power and not very normal but it sure was horrible to experience. I was shocked and in tears.
My room mate calmed me down and we had to ignore the staff in order to get this child’s birthday decorations done before he got back to the shelter after school. We had balloons, streamers, cake, goody bags, presents and smiles. It happened and this child had a smile from ear to ear all night. I’ll never forget how that child ran and hugged his mommy and said “I knew you would make it the best ever mom!”
The holidays is all about the mind set for everyone, but homeless people have barriers. Aside from the no home part – homeless moms and dads are also at the complete mercy of whatever shelter you are blindly lucky to have over your head.
I stand up for myself, what is right and for other people when it is necessary. As a result I haven’t had it very easy. Their is a lot of abuse that happens in these places. Most homeless people have no where to seek justice. Many homeless people are so ashamed and think that they deserve abusive treatment and that the abuse is a form of justice and a right for the staff that dolls it out. For the small SMALL population that will know what and where to speak up, staff will make life for them and their children huge hell in order to get the homeless person to lose their temper and give them reason to kick them out.
Then there is me :)
Not every shelter is like shelter one. ‘Shelter Three’ is an amazing place to have been apart of. I am blessed with their Continuum Of Community Care that is very supportive. The gifts and parties would never have been stolen by these people. Not every shelter is ran the same.
So to wrap this up, holidays for homeless people is a combo of mind-set, circumstances and the mercy of the shelter that will keep them from freezing to death that night.