Commentary: Honor of the Homeless

To Whom it May Concern

By Sherine Steele

My name is Sherine Steele and I try every week to purchase the newspaper that you publish. Some of the stories are so heart wrenching that I often find myself in tears. Others are so frustrating that I want to go out and yell at everyone to “Wake up and get a grip.”

I, at present, am stuck in a dead- end job as a telephone operator and am living, with my two children, at a friend’s house. I am only 22 but I used to OWN my own home and go to school and work while raising my two children with their father. Now, I’m starting over again (for the third time).

 You see, before owning my own home, I was discarded, kicked out and pregnant with no place to sleep and nothing to eat. Luckily, long-lost relatives came to my rescue with a place to sleep, but that was it. Eating and buying the necessities and continuing school was all up to me. It was 1989, and it was the first time I had to start over with absolutely nothing.

 After losing my baby (stillborn in January of 1990) and right before graduating from high school (in June of 1990, with one of the highest GPAs in my class), I was told that my grandmother was moving and I couldn’t go with her. For the second time, I had no place to go. My boyfriend and I had to stay in abandoned houses until we moved in with his mother (a crack addict). None of my friends ever knew that, for a time, I was homeless. After graduating and fed up with staying with my boyfriend’s mom, my boyfriend and I saved up our money and found an apartment. Shortly thereafter, we managed to put a down payment on our home (in September of 1992).

Now my situation is bad again, but better than it was all those years ago when I was homeless. It’s better because now I let everything that hits me become a life lesson, and through the grace of God these experiences (and others) made me stronger instead of weaker.

 My point in allowing you this small glimpse into the dark corners of my existence is to let you know that I’m not someone who has had it easy all her life and now decides that she feels pity and now wants to help all the little people that are less fortunate than herself. Until now, reading your newspaper, I never knew how I could make a difference, even a small one.

My intent is not to minimize anyone else’s anguish by comparing it to my own because I am aware that there are others worse off than me. But there was a time when it didn’t seem that way, a time when (in my mind) I was the worst- case scenario.

I’ve always loved to write, and I have dreams that someday my writing will be known by all. I don’t know if I’m that good, but practice makes perfect. I do know that I have an ability with words to make people see with their mind’s eye. I can make them feel everything that I feel when I’m writing. This is what I want to give to the homeless.

HONOR OF THE HOMELESS

I CAN WALK UPRIGHT, TALL AND PROUD

EVERY PART OF MY ANATOMY IS IN THE RIGHT PLACE

SOME ACTUALLY THINK THAT’S IN STYLE.

MY GOODNESS ME, I’VE HAD SUCH A LONG DAY

THINK I’LL STOP AND SIT HERE FOR A WHILE.

AS I CHANCE TO LOOK UP, I SEE YOU STARING AT ME

YOUR EXPRESSION’S FULL OF ANIMATED CONCERN

I SILENTLY ENDURE YOUR HYPOCRISY

‘CAUSE YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN IT’LL BE YOUR TURN.

IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE YOU COULD HAVE NOTHING

AND I COULD BE WHERE YOU STAND

YOU’D WALLOW IN SELF-PITY; POUTING AND PUFFING

WHILE I’D EXTEND A HELPING HAND.

 

S. C. STEELE

Some are already strong of mind and body and can handle the sometimes cruel treatment dished out by people who can’t possibly understand the strength that it takes to stand up to the ridicule of others, when all you want is for someone to care. It also takes strength to stop and help someone instead of walking away as if not hearing his or her pleas for help. Some homeless persons are still in the throes of self-pity and self-punishment, while others are feeling defeated, deflated and discarded by society---all because they lack vision. Those who think themselves above and beyond the cries of the weak also lack vision.

Vision is what I want to give to these people through your newspaper. Enclosed is a sample of some of my writing. I hope you see the vision that I do. I also hope that “Honor of the Homeless” is something you would consider publishing in your newspaper. If one person is inspired by reading it, then that’s one more person who might decide it’s time to do his or her part.

I would appreciate any correspondence from you concerning “Honor of the Homeless” and any other suggestions you might have as far as what else I can do to help. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Hope to hear from you soon.

Published by the Homeless Grapevine Cleveland Ohio May 1994 Issue 6