Today’s blog is by Laniker Hunter, an outreach worker who often works with homeless families.
On January 12th during the freeze, a family of six was referred to us by Senator’s Landrieu’s office. The family consisted of Gloria and her five children, ages 8 years to 17 years old. They had been living in an abandoned building on Chef Menteur Highway, with no heat, electricity, or running water. Gloria’s oldest daughter was nine months pregnant and she could not remain in the cold any longer. They were staying in a temporary emergency shelter but they were told they would have to leave after the freeze.
When Gloria came into my office she dropped down on her knees and said, “Help!” I got down on my knees with her and said, “I got you. I am going to help you.”
When she was a young girl in Central America, Gloria was repeatedly raped by her step-father. She escaped her country at age 13 with a group of people to get away from his abuse. In the U.S. members of the group started raping her. Most of her children are a product of rape. She eventually met a man who said he loved her and had a child with him, but then he started to mentally and physically abuse her. She then became addicted to crack cocaine.
When I first saw Gloria, I felt like she was broken. This lady could not move – emotionally, mentally, physically. She was exhausted to her very being, drained.
As case managers, we can’t tell her “go do this, go do that.” When people come to us in her state, we need to step in and take their hand and walk with them.
For two days I worked on getting the documentation together. I called Gale at Traveler’s Aid. I called the Landord. I called Catch, the manager of UNITY’s Warehouse and Community Engagement Program. Two days after coming to my office I had her in an apartment.
Gloria’s teenage daughter had her baby 3 or 4 days after being housed. Catch was able to furnish the whole house with donations of beds, blankets– the basics.
Gloria had never had her own home. She is SO HAPPY. The little she has now is more than she’s ever had in her life. She really wants to work. She loves to clean houses.
What drives me to be compassionate to others is my faith. When I was a little girl, I would bathe and clothe the dirty kids in the neighborhood. My mother would come home and ask, “Where are your clothes?” She got so angry because I gave them my clothes. I am a giver. It is so rooted within me.
UNITY has the same purpose and goal. UNITY wants to end human suffering. I get them. We go far beyond the call of duty to help people who have given up.
I am glad that Senator Landrieu’s office always takes time to hear people with no voice. They are also committed to ending homelessness. Some people think that the homeless have no voice – but her office shows compassion for all people. I am so glad we could help Gloria and her family.