Soon to be without a home

Yes, in six days, on November 5th, I will be without a home...sleeping out under the stars and in the bitter elements a Wisconsin November evening is famous for. I am sure I will be shivering - I am sure that I will be wishing for the warmth of a warm bed and a roof over my head. I am sure I will be counting down the hours...the minutes ...the seconds until daylight and the sun provides a warming light - despite the cold air that will still be felt in my bones. The one thing I know I am most sure of is that I will be thankful and wake with an appreciation like never before that the following evening I will be back in my home, under a quilt, surrounded by my children - and home. 

The evening of November 5th I will be without a home for one reason and that reason brought me to tears the first time I met the young lady behind it, Carley Haschke. Carley is a young woman with an extremely bright future, and one that I feel will benefit society as a whole. She is a student at New Lisbon High School here in Juneau County, Wisconsin. 

The day I met her I went to the school so she could learn more about an organization close to my heart, Lend a Hand - an organization formed just one year ago to help bring about awareness and hopefully solutions to homelessness in Juneau County.  

I showed her a video I had created to help educate and promote others about Lend a Hand - and it was after that she told me about the project she was working on, a youth leadership project and one where she wanted to highlight hunger and homelessness in honor of the National Awareness Week for Hunger and Homelessness which begins on November 14th. 

She told me how she was working with a student group at the high school called Getting Involved through Volunteer Experience (G.I.V.E.). She explained how they had a week filled of events at the high school which would be open to the community and which would bring about awareness as well as raise funds for local causes. 

It was pretty damn touching to sit there and listen to this beautiful young woman and hear all of what she was doing ...what she had learned - and then...then came the moment when I couldn't hold in the tears that were forming in the corner of my eyes - she told me about the event to help kick off everything...the one that would take place a week prior to the the National campaign - "A Night Without a Home" 

As she explained, students would be taking pledges to spend the night without experience what it would be like to be homeless. They would spend the night in sleeping bags, and perhaps even boxes on the grounds in front of New Lisbon City Hall.  

As I sat there I could envision the picture that would be created - youth in sleeping bags....shivering but creating a community right there under or near the flag pole with the American Flag waving above them. A reminder that all of us are in this together - that we need to be there for one another - share our hearts and our compassion. 

Yup, I couldn't hold it in at that point...a tear (probably more) fell. 

All of this means more to me this week than when I originally learned of it. You see about a week ago something happened that as soon as I heard of it I knew would cast a stigma yet again over the area's homeless population. 

A man suspected of murder was captured camping out at a local free, and isolated campground. A place that has carried a reputation that has never been good - and also a place where many who find themselves without a home end up camping - but who are not all as unsavory as the reputation of the park would leave you to believe. 

I knew the knee jerk reaction to that news would be "close the park" .."get rid of all THOSE people" ...and yes, pretty much that is what is occurring.  I received word earlier this week that the park would be officially closed on December 1 and also that some meetings were held on how to deal with THOSE people, as well as a meeting where they pulled the will of the man who left the money that alloted the land to the county for the campground....the purpose in doing so was to read the intent of the will, and find a way to ensure there would be no more homeless staying there. 

So, as this Night Without a Home draws near I wonder what just exactly will be the future for our area homeless. We do not have a shelter in this county. Our government agencies do not have the resources nor the funds to see to their needs...that is obvious since Lend a Hand gets referrals from those agencies to provide assistance. Lend a Hand is just a small local organization ran by volunteers and supported by private donations.  

What will we do? 

Winter is approaching...

Single males, well shelters for them are at the very least 70 plus miles away...

Shelters for woman and families closer to home and in neighboring counties are already bursting at the seams. 

And yes, many who do find themselves in need of shelter will often have many hurdles to deal with...they may in deed have addictions, mental illness, be tired and worn...

That is what can happen when hope is diminished - whether you grew up in a cycle of dysfunction or life took one too many turns in a wrong direction. 

So, as Night Without a Home draws near all of this weighs heavily on my mind - but at the same time I haven't lost hope that something positive will occur - helping me see that is knowing that we have youth like Carley Haschke out there....young leaders who not only have kind compassionate hearts, but ideas that they act on, and ones with their entire community in mind. 

Thank you Carley!!! 

You're an inspiration to me!! And before I end this post, another thank you goes out to the Carley's teacher, Julie Mecikalski as well as Family and Consumer Education teacher, Rachel Morey who advises the G.I.V.E. students! 


You are a nice person, I think your own hardships have made you feel for others. Its a pity someone as you had such a hard life but if it means others benefit from it then maybe it was all meant to be. Take care the streets are a dangerous place.

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