It's nice to be able to share some good news from the world of homeless families. I don't want to give a wrong impression either way. Homeless families have a daunting task in every aspect of survival. When they hit the speed bumps of life they're more of the Rockie Mountains' size. But when they succeed at something the occasion is worth celebrating. Such is the case for the family in Reno I wrote about last month.
They found housing, incredibly in their same old school district--a huge priority for the parents. The quality of education at their old schools has such a positive effect on their children. Perseverance. That was the key. They found the housing on their own and will treasure a place to call home unlike the rest of us who pretty well take it for granted.
Perseverance is at the core of the traits needed when families find themselves without a place to call home. They have to do things like call shelters each day to see if they've moved up on the waiting list. They must keep on top of their status with what few assistance programs are out there, in case something has changed for better or worse. They need to chase impossible leads, using precious resources of gas or money, to find a better job or a place to live. Then, hardest of all, they need to instill in their kids a sense of hope, protecting them from the grim realities that lurk around every corner. Perhaps that's what I admire about the homeless parents I've met.
Laura, my film partner, and I are in Phoenix filming for our documentary. We've met the most inspiring people. These aren't governmental leaders or corporate CEOs, but homeless/formerly homeless parents who steadfastly pursue a better life despite the incredibly daunting obstacles in their path.
One woman, who now works at a respected shelter program, found herself in a position where her husband left her for another woman on Christmas day 10 years ago. This was at the same time her mother died. She and her 4 kids were on the streets weeks later. She persisted, got a college degree and now dedicates her energies to make sure more families have some chance at doing the same.
It's our hope to shine a light on the realities of homelessness as it affects families. With the prospect of many more families joining the ranks of the dispossessed as the subprime scandal unfolds, we should aim to create an inspiring film so the nuevo-homeless have some good role models.
Seems to me that it's time to give families something--respect if we're going to let them dangle over the precipice of homelessness.