Friday, September 26, 2008

What's your support system?

This is a question I was asked at yesterday's second annual Project Homeless Connect. It's a good question. There's probably a time when I would have responded, What are you talking about? I don't need a support system! I was independent, gainfully employed, healthy, reasonably happy. I still am all of those things, but no longer so naive as to think I'm any of them without a lot of support from many directions: especially family. Everybody needs a support system. Most of us have one.

A couple of years ago at one of our conversations on homelessness, I met a woman living in the Homestart shelter. Her salary at a fast food restaurant allowed her to pay rent and buy gas, but little else. When her car broke down, she had to choose between fixing it and making rent. She chose the car--because she had to get to work. Couldn't your family help? I asked. Her family was sympathetic but no, they were in no position to help.

Poverty begets poverty.

Calvin Harris' story is worse. His parents abandoned him; he was raised by cousins who didn't do very well by him either. He grew up learning New Jersey street smarts. In and out of trouble, in and out of prison for 28 of his 48 years, he lives in Person County now where he has been sober since 2006. Now, he's looking for work--a hard proposition for somebody with a felony record.

What's your support system?

Photos from Project Homeless Connect.

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