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LETTER: Thoughts on homelessness: A first-person account

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LETTER: A letterbox with the inscription Letter to the editor

After 44 years of working every day, raising a large family, struggling to make ends meet, scraping the bottom of the barrel, barely honoring my obligations, it all came crashing down.

I found myself homeless. As I lay under a bridge on a cold dark night, wedged in-between concrete tresses I could not help but ask, how did I get here? This is not what I worked hard all of my life for. My first days as a retired senior have left much to be desired. As I try to shiver off the cold, my reasoning wanders as my frozen eyes keep a vigilant watch for predators or anything under the bridge that may cause me harm.

This uncertain night begins my first night as a homeless person. I also experienced the cold shoulder society has to offer the homeless.

What is homelessness? There is more to being homeless than meets the eye. According to the dictionary, the definition of homeless is: Without home, and therefore living on the streets.

Homeless is lacking stable and appropriate housing. People can be categorized as homeless if they are living on the streets, moving between temporary shelters, including houses of friends, family and emergency accommodations, or living in private boarding houses without a private bathroom or security of tenure.

There are, of course, many reasons why someone may become homeless. Recently a devastating weather-related event has created thousands of homeless. Overnight, literally whole towns of people have found themselves homeless.

Financial situations result in countless numbers of homeless people. Downsizing, cutbacks, outsourcing, medical setbacks -- the list is endless. From coast to coast, from inner cities to towns like Warrenton, the homeless are here to stay.

I can’t help but wonder, what is the difference between a homeless person down on their luck and a homeless person who may have just lost their home to a tornado or a fire?

Unfortunately, there is a big difference, at least in the eyes of society. One receives overwhelming help and assistance and the other does not. However, there is help to be had.

This humble homeless person has to admit that there is help out here. It might not come as quickly or as automatically as help would in the aftermath of a disaster, but help is readily available. If you find yourself homeless, there are resources out here for us. Almost every city and state offers some kind of program or shelter that can help the homeless.

I have recently found shelter in the small town of Warrenton and have met and grown to know several other homeless people -- families, for Warrenton’s shelter is a family shelter. I am grateful to have been accepted into this shelter because I am single.

The people are very unlike the homeless that I have perceived in the past. I used to think all homeless were bums, winos and people who did not want to work. I am a bit ashamed of myself to find that in this shelter everyone here is good as gold. They may have been dealt a bad hand or two, but are caring, loving, hard-working people who deserve a fresh start in life. Fauquier Family Shelter provides that for us.

We all have a home. We travel on that home through space and time with each other. If we are lucky, we will have a roof, a dry cave, a grass hut on a beach or maybe a castle to weather the storms that life might send our way.

Homeless is temporary, a label. It is not who we are!

Richard Moylan, Jr.


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