Williamsburg's Homeless & Indigent

P.O. Box 366, Lightfoot, VA 23090
Office: 757-561-3255
wsmburghomeless@yahoo.com
"Assisting people in re-gaining hope and a better way of life."

Thursday, July 14, 2005

As the heat index increases, so do the broken down cars in which families are living. In the past 2 weeks, I have received several calls from people who consider their vehicles as both bedroom and living area. The high cost of gas adds “fuel to the fire”: just to be able to have a little cool air during the hot muggy Virginian nights is too expensive for some. Some people just abandon their cars; others have them towed when they go to a motel. But, in either case, they welcome an air-conditioned motel room, a cool shower and a hot meal. But, the hardest situation is when somebody who sleeps with their children in a broken down vehicle calls for help after-hours when I can’t get a motel room for them.

The situation here is worsening. An estimated 1400 people are without housing (and I think that estimate is too low). Sometimes the situation is due to their own bad choices; other times it is a female escaping from her abuser and the domestic shelters are full. And then you have the people who truly want to get their lives on track and work hard toward housing. This isn’t to say those who have gone through abuse don’t want a better life, but the situation has a lot of baggage that comes with it.

Our numbers have been fluctuating greatly in the past 2 weeks. We have been as low as 15 people and as high as 36. As of today we are at 11 people. This past week has been a time for cleaning house. Last week we had 36 people, but a few rooms were removed from the ministry. One lady, her daughter and 4 grandchildren had been staying with us for a month. The mother (grandmother) works at another motel cleaning rooms. Her daughter does not work and stays home with her children. Social Services referred them to us because the rates were too high where they were staying. After 3 weeks of NEVER paying for their own room and constantly calling churches to pay, something needed to be done. Besides, we were tired of the gluttony and laziness of the daughter and the lack of supervision over the children. Last week when their room was due, once again, they didn’t have the money. They asked if I could pay it upfront and they would pay me back when she received her check. This wasn’t an option as I had already paid one week for them as a loan and still haven’t seen a dime of repayment. So, I had the room financially removed from the ministry. Of course we never deny anyone food, so they still join us for dinner.

But, the worse cases I have encountered are the people who think they can lie their way through a situation and remain an angel in everyone’s eyes. I tell everyone, “I give you enough rope; it is up to you what you do with it. You can hang yourself or pull yourself up.” A young female and male decided to hang themselves (not literally). She came here with her two kids from an unheated, unplumbed camper. The children were terribly sick from their few days in that morass and we didn’t feel we could say “no” for the kid’s sake. Shortly after she was here she asked if the father of one of the kids could please come stay, as he was also living in that camper. Since they were “a family”, both children called him “Daddy”, we let him come. From the beginning of his being here, we felt that he was a bad influence on her. Almost immediately there were complaints on the room: too-loud music, fighting, etc. It’s really too long of a story to lay out all the details, but, the long and short of it is that she is a con, a liar, a crack-whore, a neglectful mother, a violent abuser, etc., and we ended up bailing her husband out of jail so that he could rescue the children from a disastrous drug and violence-filled motel room. (He was only jailed for not doing his community service after he got arrested for defending himself from her abuse.) It turns out that “the other guy” wasn’t the father of either of the children: the husband was the birth father of one and the adopted father of the other. So, to compound the issue, the boyfriend was a user, refusing to work; a drug user; a drunk. We removed them from the ministry and left those to pay their own room after red-flagging them with the various agencies in town. It wasn’t long before they were gone amidst a fire-storm of accusations (she claiming that every guy in the hotel, including the owner, tried to sleep with her, he claming that all the drugs were her idea, etc.).

They did their damage! One of our guys, who hadn’t been on drugs or been with a woman since 1997, ended up using again. She convinced him while we were in NY that if he would fund her party she would sleep with him. Well, $400 or more later, he still didn’t get his end of the bargain, but he did get into enough trouble that the hotel owner is demanding that he gets off the property. Further, with their attitudes and the struggle over the children, the two spread tremendous dissension in the ranks and hampered the spiritual growth of several people who were more ready to give heed to gossip and rumors than to hear the truth.

Aside from the clienteles’ problems, we keep running into funding problems. Daniel’s (‘Rick’) financial scam truly hurt our ministry financially. As I have stated in the past, the ministry operates almost fully through my trust money. Although I receive this every 3 months, my funds are very limited. Because of this, we have also had to stop paying rooms upfront for clients. While ‘Rick’ was here, we also had 6 rooms request me to cover their rooms upfront and they would pay me back on their payday. As of that moment, none of the rooms gave me reason not to believe them. Yet on the day of their check arriving, they left with me being over $1700.00 out. This is a hole we are still trying to climb out of. We are still limited to one vehicle and pray we can get the Jeep fixed soon, as I will be getting a newspaper delivery job at the end of the month to help the ministry to recoup some money. Prayerfully, one day, some of the clients we helped that ‘took’ money from us and didn’t pay it back as they said they would, will live up to their word; but until then, we are seeking fundraising opportunities.

With as many problems as we have had in the last two weeks, if we were to allow ourselves to generalize, we would give up. But, it’s only the occasional “exception to the rule” and God that keeps us encouraged.

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