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Over the holidays, I received several emails from a woman I met who’s recently become homeless. That woman, Liz Hirsch, spends time in coffee shops reading and writing her thoughts about her situation. And in the days after we first published some emails from her (here and here), she got some work.
A VOSD reader who sells real estate got in touch with Hirsch and hired her to open the doors of a condo building to let in prospective homebuyers, and to do some other work.
I was starting to have trouble believing there were kind people in the world. I would read the newspapers and watch t.v. and well we all see what’s there. But, I have to say that I have met more kind and wonderful people even before your article came out, but more so afterwards.
I was sitting at [Starbucks], of course, yesterday and a young woman handed me a Starb’s card and said she’d seen me on Voice of San Diego and wanted to give me a present. I was rummaging through my “house” looking for something and when I looked up she was standing there with the card. I already told you about the woman who gave me the big bag of great toiletries and towels and oatmeal and hot chocolate and the woman who is giving me work to do in her business. This is important because I feel useful again. Feeling useless is a big spiritual problem, maybe will all of us?
She added a note the next day.
I am a legitimate consumer, again. I worked yesterday for a lady who sells real estate and I used the money to buy a hand crank radio here at Horton Plaza at Brookstone.
The experience working gave Hirsch some more to think about. She wrote more on Dec. 25.
She sent a postscript about mindsets.
I heard from her again the next day:
I am at Starb’s now. I feel like I am part of the rest of the world when I come here and watch everyone talking and going to work. I don’t want to be a professional homeless person only hanging out with other homeless. … I work for my new employer again tomorrow. She said to rest today. She is going to help me get a flu shot when I get rid of this cold.
So, today I read and talk (network),surf the net and think valuable and useless thoughts.
Hirsch also said she was thinking of trying to sleep at the winter tent shelter instead of at the Rescue Mission. She’d been in a couple of arguments, she said, and was frustrated with sleeping in close quarters with many different types of people, many of them angry. And she’d had an interaction with a man outside the shelter that had spooked her.
“I completely understand why people sleep on the street,” she wrote.
On Tuesday, Hirsch reflected on the help she’s received.
Wednesday, she wrote to say spent three nights at a motel downtown, having earned some money in her new part-time work. “I had a bad cold that was getting worse, so I decided to sleep it off. It was wonderful. I slept and took showers, long showers,” she said.
I’m Kelly Bennett, reporter for Voice of San Diego. You can reach me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619.325.0531.
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Disclosure: Voice of San Diego members and supporters may be mentioned or have a stake in the stories we cover. For a complete list of our contributors, click here.