Chilly Morning Miracle
By Matt Davidson, VOICE vendor
Just the other day, on a very chilly morning, I was out of money and out of newspapers. It was a Sunday, so I couldn’t go get more papers, and I was cold. My jacket was doing its job by keeping my arms and chest warm, but my ears and head were cold, as I didn’t have a cap.
As I kept thinking about not having the money to eat, not to mention going and buying a cap for warmth, my mind went back to my past and how I used to be. I thought, “Hey man, just go and steal one! You know how to do it, you’ve done it a thousand times—and bigger stuff than a little cap.”
To be honest, I sat there on the corner for a good 30 minutes or so entertaining and contemplating the thought, but my mind kept getting stuck on two things. One was the knowledge that if I got caught, I’d lose everything I’ve worked so hard for, such as getting and staying clean. The other was the fact that I came to Colorado for a fresh start. My main goal: stay out of trouble.
Then I whispered a small prayer. It was simple: “God, please help me.” What happened was nothing but a miracle. First thing, as soon as I breathed that short little plea, one thought came to mind: “The Lord will supply all your needs,” Philippians 4:19.
I sat there asking people if they could spare a couple dollars so I could buy a stocking cap to keep my head warm. I guess ten or fifteen people walked by either smiling or snickering, or ignoring me all together. Finally, a woman walking by heard my plea and stopped and handed me $10 and walked away. As I thanked her, I also thanked the Lord because without him, that never would have happened.
So I have been reminded of a lesson I learned a long time ago: when things get bad, there’s always an alternative to breaking the law, even if you are breaking the law just to survive.
I went and bought a cap and now my head stays very warm! ■
Get a Job
“Get a job” is a phrase people experiencing homelessness hear on a daily basis. But as Jon explains, it can be tough to work your way out of homelessness even when you are employed.
By Jon Lonardo, VOICE vendor
Well, I thought that I had finally found a job, and that I no longer had to put up with that quaint little phrase the homeless hear so often: “Get a job.” If they could only understand.
I have found a “real” job, finally. (People distinguish between jobs that are and are not real, but I say any job that has taxes coming out of it is a real job.) I’ve found a good job with a good paycheck and benefits.
The odd thing is, I also have a pretty good setup having been homeless for 14 years. I have the experience to help weather the frustration and navigate the cracks between the two systems of homeless and not homeless.
If I could only match the job with being homeless. The list of contradictions is long. It’s like two different worlds. Being on call, you work swing shifts, but it’s hard to make that work when you have set times you have to be in at a shelter. If you don’t make it in by 7:00 p.m., there is no guarantee they’ll let you in—especially in bad weather when beds are in high demand.
I’ve got to buy certain equipment with my paycheck in order to do the job I’ve found. I also have to pay a client fee every week at the shelter. There’s almost no paycheck left after that and food. At work I get an hour for lunch, but that doesn’t coincide with the free meals that are close enough to walk to.
Maybe someday both worlds will align. May I live that long. ■
A World Falling Apart
By Brian Dibley, VOICE vendor
The direction unknown,
Chaos from so many directions,
How do we distinguish
Between all the thoughts?
Does it crush us under the weight
Or make the future brighter?
Determined, our wishes and
Hopes influenced by others.
Do we make ourselves crazy?
From a mass populous of
Individualists, set on trying
The best to make themselves look
Better than their fellow humans.
Around us: all our lives.■