One day, I went to a center adjacent to the homeless shelter. This center was a location where the homeless looked for jobs on the internet and worked on their GEDs. They also went here to "hang out" when the homeless shelter closed in the morning. I decided this was the best location to begin my video interviewing. I paid a few homeless to interview. Then, I went to a homeless couple whom I'll name Mr. and Mrs. Smith. I offered to pay Mrs. Smith for the interview, but she declined, stating that they didn't need my money. This was quite a shock, but I recovered quickly and began interviewing Mrs. Smith. She was smiling and answering all my questions until she started to break down in tears. She was embarassed that her grandkids had to see her this way. You see, Mr. and Mrs. Smith have never been homeless. They both worked for many years in California and raised two boys. They lived comfortably even though they didn't make much money. They decided to move to Idaho, because their youngest son needed help raising his son. What eventually happened is that the Smiths were not allowed to stay in his apartment long-term, and their son wasn't assisting them, so they ended up in a homeless shelter. My heart broke. I decided I wanted to continue to stay in contact with the Smiths.
A few weeks after that interview, the Smiths found a one room hotel (converted to an apartment) and were absolutely ecstatic. First, they could sleep together again, which they weren't allowed to do at the homeless shelter even as a married couple. Their living room, kitchen, bed, sitting area were all in a room that was about 300 square feet, and they were extremely grateful. About a year later, they were finally able to leave that apartment and move into a nice retired community. Mr. Smith is collecting disability for his heart failure, so they are finally able to live somewhere nice. They still collect food stamps and go to foodbanks to survive, but they are content.
Why do I share this story? At times, like now, I get a little depressed about the bills I have to pay and certain things I would like better, etc. Then I look at Mr. and Mrs. Smith who were grateful when they were at the homeless shelter and are just as grateful right now. I forget how fortunate I am to have shelter, food, and clothing, and most of all, I have friends that continue to inspire me. If I hadn't been at that homeless shelter a year ago, I would have never had the honor of meeting such great people. Mrs. Smith, whom I see on a weekly basis, still finds time even while she's struggling to walk due to her gout and is legally blind in one eye, to text me everyday to say she's thinking about me and to have a good day. Really, who's the fortunate one? I am.