AN IMPOSSIBLE ORDER
How could we stay at home when we had no place to call home?
“We lost everything. It was more than losing a paycheck; we lost our home, our food, our clothing, Sole lost her toys… everything began to go downhill from there.”
Mersadees, her husband Greg, and her 7-year-old daughter Sole had been living in their car for three-and-a-half weeks. The days were getting hotter and there was no way of telling when their situation would change. Arizona’s stay-at-home order left them with nowhere to go and nothing to do, not even going to an indoor mall or the park. Schools and offices were closed, and the family was unable to access a computer and the internet. This meant Sole could not participate in schoolwork and even worse, without the necessary means to work remotely, Mersadees was let go from her job.
In addition to experiencing homelessness, Mersadees and her family were especially vulnerable to becoming sick from COVID-19.
The family did everything they could to keep themselves safe. Each day, they would sit in their car in a nearly empty parking lot and focused on staying away from crowded public areas. Mersadees would drive to Sole’s school to make sure her daughter received the free breakfast and lunch. Other days, the family would order and share a few items from the dollar-menu, stretching the food to make it last as many meals as possible. Mersadees was desperately calling all local emergency shelters.
In April, a room became available at UMOM’s family emergency shelter. Mersadees choked back tears when she got the call from the Family Housing Hub.
Mersadees, Greg and Sole spent their first six days at the shelter in quarantine as a precautionary measure against COVID-19. After living in their car for nearly a month, they are relieved to be at UMOM.
“It was hard for us, and I know we weren’t the only ones suffering during that time.”
Now, Mersadees and her family know when they will eat their next meal and that they have a safe place to sleep every night. Everyone has their own face mask to keep them healthy, safe, and protected. They have the necessary means to practice safe social distancing and exercise precautionary measures to keep themselves healthy. Sole is catching up on her schoolwork, and Mersadees and Greg are working with employment specialists to find work.