Charlie, our HEAR US "poster child," the cute boy whose image was captured by photojournalist Pat Van Doren, a longtime friend and conspirator, and his mother, "Cookie," recently lost their home, for reasons that I'll keep private, but not unlike reasons of other vulnerable people. 20-year-old Charlie had been working, but got laid off and is now just trying to make ends meet by temp work, staying with a friend. His mom is staying with people she knows.
In our latest documentary, "It's All About the Children," each of the 7 women expresses some form of "I'd never want to be homeless again." It reminds me of Scarlett's quote from Gone With the Wind,
I certainly don't mean to imply that Cookie or Charlie would ever "lie, steal, cheat or kill," but I could understand the sentiment.As God is my witness, as God is my witness they're not going to lick me. I'm going to live through this and when it's all over, I'll never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again.
When I visited them in summer 2008 I was touched by Cookie's pride in showing me her blue glass collection. She beamed as she spoke about her "clowning" as Cookie the Clown, brightening kids and old folks' days with her routine. Charlie was finishing courses for his high school diploma and was working had his sights on getting in at Caterpillar, a great paying job.
Formerly homeless families face repeat bouts for any number of reasons. It's easy to slide down the slippery slope. It's much harder to get back up, and the thought of being homeless hangs like a dark cloud over your shoulder, even for those far removed, as this family was. Stigma, lack of resources, feelings of failure--all contribute to the trauma of the return trip.
Today as I drove across Texas' backroads, I saw lots of roadkill, including a wild boar. It got me to thinking about people in poverty--they are the roadkill on the Capitalism superhighway.
Seems to me our way of dealing with poverty and homelessness needs drastic changes. It's bad enough to experience homelessness once, but you should be granted a "get out of jail (homelessness) free" card if facing it again, sort of like we gave those rich bankers and Wall Street scoundrels.