I met a girl named Lisa yesterday. Well, I didn’t actually officially meet her, we just happened to be sitting next to each other at the salon while we were getting our nails done. Yes. That was my me time for the month and I’ll be honest – I really just wanted to check out and relax in the little massage chair and not have to talk to anyone. But Lisa, she was on the phone….the whole time. And Lisa had a strong voice. You know, the kind that says, ‘I get things done.’
It was hard not to hear her conversation either…it went something like this:
“Hi, my name is Lisa and this morning I found a homeless woman and her three year old daughter by the side of the road and I am looking for a shelter to house them, do you have any availability?”
While we sat there, Lisa continued to call. Shelter after shelter after shelter. She had a long list and refused to quit.
In between calls, she gave us the back story. The young girl, who was somewhere between 25 and 35 years old, had a rough past, but managed to complete paralegal school and has been living in a hotel with her 3 year old daughter. It costs her $60 a day to keep that roof over her head, and today, she was out by the side of the road.
Lisa saw her while driving down the Interstate and pulled over out of concern for the child.
“It was hot out,” Lisa said. “And, when I pulled over to ask if they needed help, the little girl, who seemed happy, asked for a drink. So, I gave her my daughter’s sippy cup of juice from the back seat because I figured we were well past sharing germs at that point.”
Lisa listened to the young mom’s story and then took her to a hotel. She even paid for a two night stay. Then, Lisa spent the rest of her afternoon, one that she had planned to enjoy a little “me time” at the salon- to help a stranger. Oh, Lisa also has a job and a baby.
I was stunned at her random act of kindness and tried to help. I mean, she was on the phone trying to save someone’s life and I was just sitting there. Talk about feeling helpless and stupid..really, really stupid. I had volunteered at the City Rescue Mission, a local shelter with a successful program to help get people back on their feet (she had already left them a message) but I told her to keep calling them until she got a live voice because I knew they took women with children. Some shelters only take men, some only take women, some only take those with substance abuse issues, others were full and not taking anyone. I learned a great deal about the services available to the homeless in my community and the long waiting lists. Every one of them has a long waiting list. Then, I called the Senator, because he knows of all the local resources out there to help women in this kind of situation, and surely there were more of them…but Lisa had already called them all.
When Lisa’s nails were done and she left, I sat there wondering what would happen to the young mom and her daughter. Were they at the hotel when Lisa checked on them later that day? Was she able to find a place for them to stay? How did this situation end…or, was it really just beginning? I sat there wondering would I have done the same thing? Would I have pulled over like Lisa to ask a stranger if she and her child needed help? Would I have taken her to a shelter? Or, paid for a hotel? Would I have spent an hour and a half on the phone trying to secure a safe place for a homeless woman…especially one with this kind of troubled background? I don’t know. Would you?