The end of January left the Lighthouse with one double room to fill. Imagine a hotel room with a front living room, bathroom in the middle, and then past that, a bedroom. Someone’s room becomes the living room bit and then their roommate gets the proper smaller bedroom. So the roommate in the bedroom part is always walking through the ‘living room’ bedroom to get to their room. We only have 4 of these rooms but they are the hardest to fill because we house the hard to house and that often means we house the ‘hard to be roommates with’ people as well.
Jordon called over to the local Salvation Army because he knew of two long-term clients there who were both quiet and got along with each other. Jordon said the one gentleman had been staying at the Salvation Army for 18 months. Two years of bad luck can really change people’s lives. When the two men realized they were going to get their own place they were over the moon. In fact Jordon had breakfast with one of them and they started to cry.
The one gentleman moved in yesterday and the second today. He had so much stuff! Two very full car loads, with plates, rugs, pictures frames, and even two versions of RISK! Our rooms are only hotel size so I was worried he won’t be able to fit it all in.
I also realized I’ve gotten weirdly used to people moving into the Lighthouse with very little. We provide everything from pillow and blankets, night tables, tvs, shower curtains, shampoo & conditioner, soap, towels, etc. because they often don’t have those things.
The Emergency Shelter clients also often arrive with very little. We had a lady arrive two weeks ago who was wearing a pair of shorts and had nothing to change into, in the middle of winter.
Another lady staying in our shelter had two huge duffle bags, plus a large backpack she kept with her at all times, and always wore bright red Ugg style boots. When the snow started to melt they became sopping wet. When we told her she would have to wait a day to use the dryer* she almost started to cry. All she had to wear on her feet were bright red soggy boots.
For both ladies we found something suitable from our clothing donation room. But basically their lack of a change of clothes kept them from being able to go outside, walk to the nearest store, or meet with their social worker who is only a block and a half away. And obviously forget about applying for a job or new apartment.
Having a room of one’s own and having things that are specially yours is important to everybody, whether they are living in poverty, have mental health or addiction issues, or other disabilities. I hope I remember that next time I’m hauling a new tenant’s stuff into their new home, no matter how much or how little they own.
*Laundry is free at the Lighthouse but we only have two washers and two dryers so tenants and shelter clients have to book a time. Tenants get upset when their time is ‘bumped’ so we try to keep the schedule as much as possible.