Last Tuesday, I showed up early for a meeting downtown at Family Gateway, a shelter facility devoted to homeless women and children who try to live on our streets.
Jan Mitura is the incredibly dedicated Executive Director of this very special and much-needed organization. Jan has been at it downtown for a long, long time. I am not sure just how she does it, but that is the stuff of a future post.
As it turned out, the meeting I came to attend had been postponed due to the holidays and I had not received word--not that unusual for me!
I made good use of my time though.
While I was waiting to find out about the status of the meeting that was not to be, I met a man who had followed me into the center.
I noticed him approach the front desk. I heard him announce his reason for being there, "I'm here to see Mary in Room 444, please" (both name and room number are changed here for security and confidentiality purposes).
After making his request, he took a seat and we began to talk. We shook hands and exchanged introductions.
"I lost my job and we lost our apartment," he told me. "We used the little money we had left to rent a storage place. We hope to be back in an apartment by the first of the month."
We talked about the challenge facing Dallas and people without homes. I offered that at CDM we wanted to get the homeless involved in a new conversation about how to attack and reduce the problem.
He shared helpful insights about the "varieties" of homeless people on our streets. He was eager for me to know that he did not use drugs and that he was not an alcoholic. He was set to getting things "back in order" for his family. He told me that he was staying in the Union Gospel Mission.
Just as I was about to ask about his family, "Mary" appeared holding a baby girl born just six days before.
My new friend took his little girl in his arms and proudly cradled her close to his chest.
"This is my little girl," he said with a smile on his face, "she is six days old!"
He sat down, still holding his daughter as Mary disappeared to tend to some matters in her small, but safe and clean apartment.
Before leaving, I handed him my card and told him about an employment opportunity that included on the job training for anyone who wanted to learn to drive big rigs, become a welder or a pipefitter. He assured me that he would call after Thanksgiving. I expect to hear from him.
He asked me for nothing.
So much could be said here.
Families who are homeless in Dallas are forced to split up, unless they can "bunk" with friends or family for awhile.
Homeless people are proud, resourceful and ignored too often.
I keep thinking of that little girl--just like my two daughters and my two grandchildren.
I can't seem to clear my mind of the determined, but worried smile on the mother's face.
I will always remember this dad and husband who just wants to make life as good as he can for
We are all the same, at the heart and soul level, we are identical. What is different is experience and opportunity.