Homelessness is often seen as something that happens to other people. Something that happens only in big cities. Something that happens to people who somehow deserve it because they brought it on themselves. Yet my mother in small town Illinois of under 10,000 people joins her fellow CDA women to cook and serve food to homeless adults and children. In a town that small, the people she serves aren’t strangers, they’re neighbors.
When you take time to listen to the stories you realize homelessness can happen to anyone. Is that homeless man on the corner there because his story resembles the one below, recently posted about one of my own neighbors? Or is the reason something easier to dismiss, like addiction? The problem is, you’ll never know if you don’t LISTEN to their stories. If you take time to do that, you may find yourself thinking, like me, that it doesn’t really matter if fate or the individual is responsible. It only matters that IT IS.
In July of 2008, Mike caught pneumonia and was in the hospital for a week. During routine tests, it was discovered he also had the rare-but-treatable disease Hairy Cell Leukemia. He was immediately placed on an aggressive schedule of chemotherapy treatment, and stayed in the hospital for six more weeks. While the treatment cured him, it left him so physically depleted that he required three months of recovery. During this time, his health insurance and Family and Medical Leave Act funding ran out, and McLendon could no longer hold his job open for him. (Mike points out that McLendon did everything they could to help him throughout this time.) .