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Homeless In Sarasota

Any Of Us Could Be Homeless

| Sande Caplin |

This is a story from March, 2014.  It still holds true today.

Just about any of us could be homeless.  There are many circumstances that could put us out on the street.  Here in Sarasota / Bradenton the debate goes on and on about the “homeless issue.”  Everyone has an opinion.  We do our part by supporting Resurrection House. 

I have been observing a homeless person who has been panhandling on Washington Boulevard for about a week.  She spends her day basically begging for money to survive.  Last week, I decided to strike up a conversation.  Here is what took place.  I am calling her “Alice” in this story.

I called her over to my car.  She walked over and I asked her “when was the last time you ate and she said yesterday.”  I handed her 5 bucks and I said “please walk across the street and get yourself some lunch.”  I watched her as she walked into the McDonalds.  She came back a few minutes later with a lunch and wanted to give me the dollar or so change that was left.  I told her to keep it.

Q-  What’s your name?
A-  Alice.  I gave her my name and told her that I had an office in the area.

Q-  How old are you?
A-  Sir, I am 28 years old.

Q-  How long have you been pan handling?
A-  About 3 years.

Q-  Where do you live?
A-  Down the road in the woods in a tent with a couple of other homeless folks.  (her worldly possessions were in a duffle bag and she had a bicycle.)

Q-  Do you have family?
A-  My mom lives in a 1 bedroom house in Sarasota with 5 other people.

Q-  Why don’t you live with her?
A-  Sir, there is no room in the house.  My son lives in a tent in her backyard.

Q-  Do you have any skills?
A-  I can clean houses and have worked stocking shelves in Publix.  Someone stole my ID so it is difficult to find any work without an ID.  I am sure I look suspicious.

Q-  Where do you shower?
A-  About every 10 days a very nice person gives me enough money where I can check into a motel overnight to get a good nights sleep and take a shower.  It can be very difficult to find a motel that will let me stay.  They think I am a prostitute.

Q-  Do you want to work or would you rather panhandle?
A-  Sir, I have pretty much lost my dignity.  I would love to work.  There are times when I walk up to a car and people spit at me or throw garbage at me or curse at me.  

Q-  If I was able to get you some work cleaning up parking lots or trimming bushes or some type of maintenance work would you do it?
A-  Yes sir, I would.

The entire conversation lasted about 10 minutes.  The young lady is someone’s daughter.  It could be my daughter or your daughter.  You could see the despair in her eyes.  At one time she was a beautiful girl.  

I am not sure where this will go.  My first thought is that maybe one homeless person can be helped.  I may never see her again as she is constantly being chased off of the street.  I do know that it isn’t right.

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