Tough times

Well, here I go again. It seems lately like I have less and less to write about, but actually it's really the opposite - however - life has been so very busy and so filled with interesting stories and experiences that by the time I find I do have some time, I am exhausted and cannot find the words.

The last two weeks have been exactly that. My last post I wrote about finding a news story on a woman who had survived a similar situation as I did at the end of my marriage. I had found her story one late night when I couldn't sleep. I was so moved by it, I not only wrote about it, but also made an attempt to locate her and speak with her. After all, how often do we read about spousal/marital/partner sexual assault being caught on tape and the abusers being sent to prison?

One day I will find the words to share the emotions of the conversation I shared with her over the phone, an hour and half conversation....thousands of miles apart...different walks of life, and ironically different in so many ways, but on the other hand we had so many common bonds.

The thing is the day I had that phone conversation with her was just happened to be the day when a bubble burst here in my community...and probably many communities across the country. As some of you know in October of 2009 I wrote an article on rural homelessness that eventually led to an organization being started in my community, Lend a Hand.

It is an organization that has become a focus in my life and part of my daily routine. Some days I am pretty proud of the work we do, and other days I am emotionally and physically drained by the demands of the needs in the community...

It was last spring we realized that winter was not our busiest season, but rather when the bitterness of cold temperatures started giving way to snow melting that our phone would ring off the hook. Spring may be the time for new life, and rebirth, but if you're struggling in this economy it also means it's the time when evictions happen and utilities get shut off after a winter of a moratorium.

So this spring we thought we were prepared for what was about to happen....however...I now believe there is no way to prepare to witness so many human experiences and needs. We've been hit hard the last couple of weeks. So hard in fact that just days prior to Easter we had  21 individuals placed in local motels due to them being homeless....7 families - 10 adults and 11 children. Those numbers do not include the calls for help from people we were able to prevent from being homeless.

Three volunteers answer the calls. Myself along with two of our steering committee members. We all do it as we go about our lives, and often while we work at our regular jobs. The cell phone we have allows for this ease of access.

The price of gas is really taking a toll on many people. We've been getting a lot of calls from people who need gas vouchers...stories such as to be able to drive 20 miles to their $8 an hour part time job. If they don't work, they can't pay for their electric or rent...and in a few months then they will be calling for a motel room because of an eviction.

It's sad....truly sad, the state things are right now.  But I do have hope - through all these tough times there are periods when the littles things people do can mean so much...little things that we never expect to amount to something, and sometimes it can be as simple as listening to someone...being a non judgmental ear.

This past weekend I worked on an awareness video for Lend a Hand, and at the request of someone from the University of Wisconsin Extension office here in town. One of our clients agreed to tell their story to my little camera...the woman has courage - her story is one that truly highlights how one life experience can spiral a life out of control...her story is one that is being repeated all over this country right now....she may be just one woman here in Juneau County, Wisconsin but her voice speaks for many...


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