When Sammy and Wendy showed up to our daily breakfast, they were both dressed nicely and gave no appearance that they were homeless. Probably one of the reasons was that they were no longer homeless.
They recently had found housing, Wendy was working, and Sammy was in the process of finding a job. He even knew what type of work he was looking for and exactly where he was going to apply. Sammy was studying to be a veterinary technician until he found out that he would have to be involved in euthanizing animals. He said he just couldn’t do it. So he was applying to work at the animal shelters that didn’t perform the procedure.
We occasionally have “alumni” appear to have breakfast with us. Most of the time, people just disappear. Without more information, I always hope for the best. That they found housing or a job, or moved somewhere near family or friends that might be a key support system to help them get back on their feet.
But this was a little different. Sammy and Wendy went through the serving line, and once I got the chance for a break from serving, I joined them at their table. Sammy explained what they were up to and said that he and Wendy just wanted to stop by, have breakfast, and thank us for all that we had done for them. That was it. Just to stop and say thanks at 5:30 a.m. to the volunteers serving breakfast at a homeless shelter. What a sweet gesture and one that I’ll never forget.
Recovery from homelessness is a difficult task. Even once established, oftentimes folks are living on the edge financially, and if anything out of the ordinary happens, the chances of returning to the streets are very high. I really hope to not see Sammy and Wendy again, for the best possible reason.
– From Those People – The True Character of the Homeless by Richard Bahr, available in October 2018 through Amazon and other major sellers.