When I interviewed Missy, she was folding laundry. I helped her and was surprised to find matching socks among the heap. She told me she’d found a bag of clothing in the dumpster. She brought the clothing to the shelter to wash and donate to those in need.
Missy received her shoes from the shelter.
What is your biggest struggle with poverty on a daily basis?
“That would be shelter. I have my cart and I live on the street.”
“No! My biggest struggle is having society accept me for who I am. The majority of people—the working class—don’t treat me like I’m worth anything. They don’t give me any respect or any love at all. Yet, I give love and respect to everyone. This is a true story. I speak from the heart.”
“People pass judgement on me because I’m on disability. I’m treated like I’m a piece of garbage.”
“I inherited a lot of money. People think because I live on the street that I have nothing. But, I have money. I test people. The ones that respect and trust me, well, I give them money.”
“I’m just considered a bag lady. I go to shelters and I collect things being given away to provide for other people. Other homeless people but also working class families.”
“Many working class people are in the same position, money-wise, as a homeless person. They put on a façade how everything is fine, yet they can be more in need than the homeless. They run up more debt by going to the casino or the bingo. These are their addictions. They’re not addicted to drugs or alcohol. Their gambling addictions have them in debt way over their head.”
What would you like people to know about living in poverty?
“You have to learn how to be free in spirit. I’m free to give my time and my love away. I give my love away freely but not intimacy. I don’t mean it that way.”
“I get scared living on the street. But, I have power from Jesus to fight the elements. I am good to people. In turn, Jesus guides me where to go to keep me safe. He shows me the light. He tells me to sleep in parking garages or in doorways of lawyer’s offices. He tells me to sleep out in public. To be safe from the darkness. From the evil that will hurt me.”
“I don’t ever ask for anything. I’m smart. I’ve worked as an electrician and as a master plumber. Mind you, this was before my accident. I jumped in the Detroit River. I tried to kill myself five times. The last time, I was dead for over twenty minutes. Jesus asked me not to do that ever again. I can’t do that to Him. Or to my children or grand-children. I’ll never try to take my life again.”
“In 2000, I left my abusive husband in the States. I’ve been through a lot. I was a heroin baby. I’m bi-polar. My parents wouldn’t treat me with medication . They made me study the brain in great detail. I use my mind to fight anything off. I don’t feel pain like others do. I’m protected by my mind.”
“People expect me to act like a poor girl. To be needy. I’m not. I donate money to people. I give what I have to others. These clothes that I found in the dumpster…people will be happy to get them. I do what I can to help others.”
This was found among the clothing rescued from the dumpster: