Picture this: you’ve gathered all your belongings and put them in one room with you. Now, imagine you had to fit all those things, and yourself, into a car. Think about what it would be like to have your family and their belongings in the car with you. What would it feel like to drive across the country with your life stuffed into such a small space? What would you do when you found our that the place you were expecting to move into fell through? With no other options, imagine your family of four spending two months sleeping in your car. Due to the lack of space, your 11-year-old daughter has to sleep in the trunk.
“I know there are other families out there who need to shower and place to sleep too.”
Rose and her sister squeezed in the backseat of the family’s sedan, sandwiched between their belongings. They only brought what they could fit in their car and got rid of everything else. Rose’s family left Illinois, a place they had previously called home. Alethea, Rose’s mom, was convinced by a life-long friend to uproot her family and relocated to the desert – to start over. It was a promise for help and a new beginning in a different state, city, and community that would be free from the gangs and violence they knew.
For the next 27 hours, the family of four watched from the car windows as the world passed them by. They anxiously awaited to see the new place they’d be calling home. Upon their arrival in Arizona, Alethea’s friend stopped answering calls and returning messages. She had an empty feeling in her stomach and was faced with the reality that the money from her husband’s last paycheck was nearly gone and now they had nowhere to go. Desperately, they resorted to seeking out homeless shelters. Their hearts sank when they found out that there was an eight week-long waiting list.
“I had to sleep in the trunk,” Rose shared, “there wasn’t much room; my mom and step-dad had the front seats laid back and my sister slept across the back seat.”
For the next two months, the family moved from park to park. They parked under streetlights for a sense of safety. During the day, they would use public restrooms to maintain their hygiene; brushing their teeth, washing their faces and combing their hair. They would be a loaf of bread and pack of lunch meat at the grocery store for meals.
“I want my family to be able to come back at the end of the day, sit down at the table and eat dinner together,” Rose said about her dreams for the future.
There are more than 150 families experiencing homelessness in our community right now. They are waiting to escape the unsafe environment of living on the streets, sleeping in cars, or residing in unstable living conditions.
You can help provide these families with a roof over their head, a safe place to stay, a bed to sleep in, warm meals, and the support they need to get back on their feet. $100 can provide a family with one day of meals, shelter and supportive services.
Will you give hope to the children who may be sleeping in the trunk of the car, like Rose?