Hi I’m Leslie and I’m homeless

I have been living with my daughter and 2 grandchildren, being the “granny nanny”, getting one on and off the school bus, picking the other up as needed, some cooking, housework, grocery shopping, etc. You get the idea. I am trying to get used to this new life. I still don’t question having left, it was still the right thing to do. We are mutually helping each other. And it seems to be working somewhat.

Late afternoon, a woman comes to the door. She tells me her name is Leslie and she’s homeless. She has her minivan parked out on the street and she wanted to be respectful. She only stays 1 night anywhere because she doesn’t want to upset people. She says she made some bad decisions and she’s saving for a home. She’s clean, not on drugs as far as I see. I tell her it’s not my home so I can’t say stay or go.

So Meg gets home and we talked the rest of the night about this. We have a terrible homeless problem here in Olympia. Encampments full of trash, tarps, stolen shopping carts. I want to help those that want to help themselves. We drive by this daily, we see but it doesn’t touch us. But wait until the best of this type of situation wants to stay in front of YOUR home.

A person works hard to get ahead, have a home to raise your kids in, and in my daughter’s case, left an alcoholic husband and started over with little but some savings and her mother 😉. On one hand, we’ve talked about how we’d help those that want it, but then when she’s literally parked near you, do you? Do we protect ourselves because of fear? Will she bring her friends? Will our dead end street become the new “jungle” as they call one of the encampments? But what if she IS the kind of person who made some wrong decisions, who is respectful, is just trying to get on her feet? It really was a moral decision for me.

In the end, I walked out to talk to her after dinner, asked if there was anything I could do for her. She was all tucked in to her van with space blankets to hold the heat. We spoke with the doors closed, because she’d lose what heat she had. She’s saving for a place. She has a retirement. I wished I’d asked more about shelters and why her car is preferable.

We never know what situation might arise. That could be a lot of people, living on a razor thin edge. We don’t know how we’ll react in a given scenario, will I call the police because I’m uncomfortable, feeling the need to protect my family and home? Or will I reach out, with a kind word, a smile and a $20 bill, letting her know we gave her peace for 1 night?

The final paragraph is, I left in the morning (bus duty, you know) and when I came back late morning, she was gone. It’s likely I’ll never know what becomes of Leslie. I hope and wish for her to rebuild, to become solvent, able to spend every night in one place, that’s safe and hers. Because that’s all any of us ever want, safety and security. So tonight when you lay your head down, be grateful, that’s my hope for all of us. It’s all too easy to take it for granted. Peace on ya ❤

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