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As I prepared last week to wrap up our quest series on homelessness, I thought as I have so many times in the last few months about Liz Hirsch, a woman we met last December after she’d become homeless. She’s shared many emails with us — recounting experiences from being sick in a shelter, trying not to look homeless in Starbucks and attempting to avoid some mindsets of homelessness she observed in the people she met. Many VOSD readers responded by sharing extra Starbucks cards, clothes and other items. She told me she was recognized a few times on the street or in the café. One reader hired her for some part-time work.
Now, Hirsch lives with other women in a transitional housing program run by Catholic Charities. She spends some time at the Tomorrow Project, a Bankers Hill program meant to give participants help with work skills and job hunting.
Hirsch, as always, is a compelling writer. Here’s her latest dispatch about trying to get back into the workforce and grappling with losing privacy. In the greeting, she responds to my note to her about going soon to see family in Canada, where I grew up.
In a subsequent email, she clarified that she meant to say the people who run her program are “wonderful” at the end of the note.
Martha Ranson, who runs Catholic Charities services for homeless women, responded after hearing some of Hirsch’s observations and concerns.
Liz is a great help to us because she does ask questions and is willing to ‘explore’ the issues that contribute to her homelessness. I don’t think she is writing anything that isn’t true; she provides an interesting perspective and — again — helpful for us to get at the things that don’t work very well.
I appreciate that Liz is so articulate, and that she finds our staff ‘wonderful.’
We know Hirsch’s story isn’t the only story of homelessness out there. But I’m grateful she’s been so candid about her experiences and given us a window into a world many of us haven’t imagined.