By my guess, she’s in her 20s. Young. I happened upon her this morning while walking our dog. She was in her car stuck at the intersection of two alleys. I heard her trying to start the car. Over. And over. And over. It cranked but wouldn’t start. To my untrained ear, it sounded like she was out of gas. I decided that if the car was still there after walking Barcelona, I would go over and offer my help.
Sure enough, after putting the dog in, I saw the car there, but no more attempts to start it were being made. Not having seen the driver ahead of time, I approached the car carefully and immediately noticed she was there, just sitting. A one-month old baby sat in his car seat and a little girl in the back. I asked if she needed help and she said that yes, she thought the car needed a jump start. Knowing that the car cranked earlier, I told her that I didn’t think that was the issue. Instead, I asked if she maybe needed gas. She stated that she had run out of gas earlier but put a few dollars in from a gas can that she kept in the car. She was homeless and decided that our alley looked safe so she slept with her kids in the car last night. And while I only saw the two, she stated that there were a total of four kids. Looking further, I could see them huddled together and sleeping in the back seat. The kids ranged in age from one month to five years. They looked well taken care of and it was obvious that she cares deeply for them.
I helped her push the car onto the street where we parked it and told her that she and her family could come and hang out at the house until we could come up with a plan of action. She had no one to call. No one. Imagine that for a moment. She had been trying to find space at a shelter, but all they could do was put her on a waiting list. Her options are limited since it would be for five: either put her kids somewhere and find a place for herself, or wait until something becomes available. The feelings of desperation must be overwhelming. Not only does the mother feel like there is no help, but the shelter workers or 211 operators, who genuinely wish to help, know that there are not enough beds available. They must have to tell people several times a day that there is no room anywhere, many (if not most) of which are single mothers just looking for a warm place to stay; a place where they can at least lay down horizontally to get a few solid hours of sleep.
So, as of right now, her car is parked on the street. We have determined that it’s a fuel pump and I have purchased the part. The one contact she happens to have came to work on it today but ultimately decided it was too big of a project for him to handle, so tomorrow, we’ll be towing the car to a shop to get it repaired. Sadly, it’s no small job.
Jessica spent the day making calls to see if we could get her into a shelter anywhere. Unfortunately, with four kids, trying to find a shelter that could take them was impossible. Jessica did not give up, however and did gather a lot of good information. Sadly, though, there was nothing much that could be done today. Jessica offered to make our house available to the kids and we got a hotel for the mom, who took the one month old with her. Tomorrow will be another day. Tonight we have a house full of kids, and our suspicion is that we will have them for about a week. The new children range in age from almost 2, almost 3, and a five year old. As of right now, we are unsure as to whether or not we’ll also be ending up with the one-month old for a bit.
The one bit of “lucky” news is that the other boys, A, N and A2 happen to be at their birth-mom’s house for the night, so it gave us a chance to get to know these three and learn what makes them tick. I suspect that one, if not two of them are going to be quite the handful.
Our hope, though, is that the mom can rest easy tonight knowing that her kids are taken care of and that she might be able to relax just a bit. Tonight, before Jessica took her to the hotel, I saw the mom smile for the first time the whole day.
Unlike the other three, I do not think that these are going to be a long-term situation, but stranger things have happened.
There are a lot more details to this and a bit more to the story, but frankly, I’m tired. But I did want to get this post out there before going to bed since I did somewhat “vaguebook” a bit earlier.
Next up. . . finding places for all eight or nine to sleep tomorrow night. Wish us luck!
If you’d like to help, you can click on one of the donation buttons on the right. I’ve also created a post about the very real costs that we’ve had to deal with as a result of this. Any and all money goes toward helping the kids we’ve taken in. Regardless of donations, it will not keep Jessica and I from staying focused on helping as many kids as possible when the call arises.