Homeless In Alexandria

alexandriaIt’s hard to say exactly who ‘the homeless’ are…

As Good Shepherd has been serving at the hypothermia prevention shelter this week and continues to serve a meal for the homeless twice a month, we’ve come to know a number of homeless people.

Some are veterans. Some are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Some have mental health diagnoses.

Rene is pregnant with her second child. (The names in this post have been changed for privacy.) She is due today. Hers is a pregnancy of the community. She is drawn to the front of the line for food and blankets. While others are limited to a single mattress, no one complains as two men set up her bed with four.

Oscar is a construction worker. He asks if we can place a sandwich in the refrigerator for him because he’ll miss breakfast to get to the job site at 5am.

Michael wants to know what I think about the apostle Paul and his comments about women in church.

Devin walked into the shelter at two in the morning with a brand new cast on his arm. “I believe God has a plan!” he declares. “God had a reason for me to punch that wall and break my wrist!”

Marcus is a landscaper. He’s looking forward to March when he’ll be able to work again. In the meantime, he uses the shelter at night and in the morning counts up the 30 pills he needs to take every day after having most of his pancreas removed 9 years ago.

Billy loves to tell jokes, though sometimes he’s laughing so hard himself that it’s hard to hear the punchline.

Monica enjoys music. She decided to come to northern Virginia to be near Wolf Trap. We share a fondness for Tanglewood, an outdoor musical venue in western Massachusetts.

Edward is hoping to go to college. He passed his GED without studying on the first attempt. Released to the state by his mother when he was a toddler, he’s looking for his roots in Alexandria. He heard that his mother died near here and he’d like to find her grave and “pay my respects.”

There really is no single story of a homeless person in Alexandria. Their stories are as varied as our own.

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