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Family of 4- A touch of Reality

Some of you might have read this poem, in the Ravalli Republic, I wrote it after coming home from seeing one of the families I have become close with at one of their weekly after-school laundry appointments. Here is their story and who the poem was written about. Their family consists of a mom, a dad, and two young boys 5 and 8 years old. They had contacted me to make an appointment to do their laundry one afternoon after school got out. I packed up the parents’ hygiene bag along with other items I had on hand. I started, about 3 months ago, making up children’s bags too. Realizing what an impact being uprooted, from the only home they ever knew to live in the family car would be an overwhelming feeling to children. I watched for several months as the parents would come in, receive their bags (that also included their children’s hygiene items) and the children would sit and pull everything out of the one shared family bag, hold on to their items and place their parents back in the bag. For the rest of the time in the laundromat, they would sit there holding their hygiene items while doing homework, leaning their heads against the wall, or being antsy out of boredom. While trying to be ahead of the game for Christmas I was on Amazon and realized I had credit from a return

I had forgotten about it. Thinking about these two little boys I ordered age-appropriate coloring books, crayons, fidget spinners, a spiderman book, dragon book, and went to Safeway to buy fruit snacks, Goldfish crackers, juice boxes, and a bottle of water for each.

When Amazon came, I was so excited to pack their items in bags to take to them the next night. It was the same routine as the week before (I always make a point to put something different in the parent/family bags if they had already received hygiene items already). The boys will carry in a small bag or two and mom and dad would follow with larger bags. Dad would go up to the front counter and get his laundry detergent, family bag, and quarters. One of the boys would take the family bag and see what was in it that week. This week was no different from the other weeks EXCEPT for this time, I came over to them with their own bags. The size of their eyes is something I will never forget. Those smiles warm my heart to this day. I watched as these precious little boys looked through their bags and all the troubles of their new home life seemed to be put aside for the rest of that evening. Before they even opened their bags, I got the two biggest hugs I have received in a long time. As mom, dad, and I had a conversation we were pulled away by the words of two very happy boys showing their parents what they had. With my heart full I excused myself to go home. On the drive home I decided from that point on, if there was a family coming in to use our services the children would no longer share a bag with their parents but rather have their very own. Fast forward to my meeting with Rev. Gretchen was given McDonald’s gift cards to offer to my guest. The same evening of their congregation’s generous donation I would be seeing these two young men. I always try to change up their bags week to week. This evening would be different. I put their Mcdonald's cards in their bag along with mom and dad’s cards. I wrote a note on the envelope that held the cards, “Shhh be very quiet when you open this, it is a surprise for you but mom and dad too. After you open it take their card over and let them know that you want to take them out to dinner tonight.” Like every other time before I went over to mom and dad to catch up on the week’s events and progress in finding a new home. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the smiles come over their faces and almost looking a little sneaky as they came over and told their parents they were taking them to dinner. This time it was the look on the parent's face that I will never forget. The look of pure relief of not having to think of something for dinner that night and it was paid for. I know this is long, but I feel our mission needs to share a real-life family with you so you know, as a congregation, how much your generous donations, prayers, and supporting Loads of dignity have had an impact on one family.

(Update: while they have not found housing mom’s parents, that live out of state, bought them a beautiful 5 wheel, which surprisingly has plenty of room for four people. They are warm, have a safe place to lay down at night and a restroom right there)

I am homeless but have done nothing wrong

Bills were paid on time, and our yard was

vibrant with freshly planted flowers

The smell from our BBQ and sounds of

children filled our home

I am homeless because the owner sold

our home

We packed all our furnishing and watched

our children choose smaller toys to keep

out of storage

You see me at the grocery store, and we

make small talk in the checking line

I walk away feeling relief that for one

more day no one knew I was homeless.

We have mastered washing up in gas

stations, taking more time than you, to

make sure we have gone the extra mile to

not look homeless

I drive down the same roads as you when

we both pick up our kids from school

My wife pours over the paper praying to find

a new place to rent. This routine leads to

daily tears, I sadly watch them roll down

her beautiful face

When the sun starts to set, we drive around

to find a safe place to park. I place light blankets

in our windows as my wife locks all the doors

With thick blankets wrapped tightly

around us, I silently pray we can sleep

through the night

For 6 hours a day, my children are the same as

yours. They play on the playground releasing all

the stresses that plague them at home

No one knows we are homeless.

We have had the same jobs for years and our

children always manage to adore a smile on

their face

We hope to find a motel room for a night or two.

The thought of feeling a soft bed to stretch

out on,a bathroom just a couple of steps

away, and the calming feeling of

the warmth from our shower seems

so far out of reach

We call around to each local motel

Praying that we will get to experience this

luxury for just a night or two

The words seem to flow so freely from

Their mouths, we have no vacancies

for the next few weeks

It will be another night of finding a

safe place to park

We look for a semi lighted space for us to

Feel safe, we must be out of the sight of

others so we can avoid the midnight knock

saying we have to leave again

I am still homeless in a small town

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