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prettydysfunctional

The chaotic ramblings of a retired adult industry entertainer.

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homelessness

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On a personal note, I was baptized yesterday.  It has me feeling a bit invigorated, so I thought I’d post some of the small things that I do to try and help others.  Poverty and especially homelessness are issues that hit close to home for me.  Overcoming those challenges continues to be a struggle.  But I’ve come a long way, and I’m very fortunate.

I skipped over blessing bags because information on those can be found everywhere. So here are 5 of my favorite, simple (and low cost) ways to help people in need.

  1. Quarters. Quarters go a long way when you’re on the street.  They can be used at the laundry mat.  Vending machines.  Pay phones (if you can find one). Or even to buy single cigarettes (don’t be judgy).
  2. Umbrellas. This isn’t homeless specific.  The dollar stores usually have umbrellas for sale.  I keep a stash of them in my car and hand them out when I see folks caught out in unexpected rain.  In particular, the people stuck waiting at bus stops that don’t offer any coverage.
  3. Bottled water. This is an obvious one.  I always have extra bottles of water for when I see people who look like they could use it.  Bonus if you keep some of those water flavoring packets on you.  The bottled water tastes fine.  But chances are that bottle is going to be re-used.  And water fountain water is so nasty sometimes that it’s hard to choke down.  You can have a flavor packet already scotch taped to the side of the bottle as you hand them out.
  4. Bus passes. This may vary by city and state.  But if you live somewhere where you can purchase daily bus passes ahead of time, they are helpful to keep on hand.  A lot of people hit me up for change because they say they need to buy a bus pass.  So I’m able to give them a pass right then and there instead of cash.  Sometimes they take it, sometimes they don’t.  But the bus can be a blessing for those who need a ride to a shelter or soup kitchen that’s across town.  It’s disappointing how resources are spread out across major cities.  I know that sometimes people will turn around and sell the bus pass for cash anyway, but it’s out of my hand at that point, so I never worry about such things.
  5. Gift cards. You go to a fast food place, and there’s someone there asking for money.  You don’t want to give them cash, and I don’t recommend just buying them whatever food you think is sufficient (you don’t know about potential food allergies, etc.)  Instead, you can buy a small gift card and hand it to them on the way out.  Then they can ration it however they like.  It’s a more significant help than you realize because now they can buy some coffee or whatever and use the bathroom and get a break from the elements without being accused of loitering right off the bat.  Obviously, this can also be done at places like Target, etc.

I will do much more in the future to help tackle this complicated issue.  But in the meantime, these are some of the small things that I can do to try and make a difference.

 

Vagabond

I was asked about the pros of living on the streets.

I can’t come up with any.

Seriously.

I could be all “yeah, freedom to go and do what I wanted, blah blah”.

But it just doesn’t really usually work that way.

I was a single, decent looking female living on the streets.  It was dangerous as heck.  Probably would have been a lot more terrifying if I wasn’t constantly wishing myself dead anyways.

Sometimes I would walk for 5 hours straight at night time, just to stay safe and warm.

Even if I did lay down to sleep, the cement is hard, but the grass has bugs.

Sometimes it was so cold I just prayed that I would die and get some relief.

Knowing that if you did die, nobody would even know (or care).

Sleeping with one eye open because you’re worried about being raped or at the very least, having your stuff robbed.

You’re constantly dodging police because it’s essentially illegal to be homeless.

The constant battle of finding a restroom.  Or a way to get clean.  Feeling self-conscious because you look at feel like shit (and you know it).

I was always thirsty and dehydrated.  But the fountain water at the parks was so gross that I generally just preferred to stay dehydrated vs. choking that nastiness down.

I read tons of books to keep my mind occupied.  Bonus…the library usually has nice restrooms.

Did you know that San Fransisco doesn’t have any emergency shelters for single women? (at least they didn’t back in 2014).  I’d have to find a way to get myself into the city to sign a list at lunchtime.  Then I’d have to get back there again at dinner time.  I’d sit there for hours and hours waiting for my name to be called while watching other folks get called and shuttled off in vans.  Then come 7 o’clock, they kick you out with a “sucks to be you”.

I never panhandled.  Shoot, I could barely look people in the eye as I wandered aimlessly through towns with my backpack that had my blanket tied to the outside of it.

Only a few groups of people seem to actually enjoy living on the streets.  The mentally ill.  Those who are trying to prove something, but know that they have mommy and daddy to fall back on when they get bored of adventuring.  And drug addicts who are too far gone to care.

Living in my van was a huge improvement.  But I still wouldn’t recommend it.  Sure there were some good times.  But one doesn’t usually have much energy for parties or adventures when just staying alive requires so much effort.

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