Edited excerpt from Angelika’s Journal
I hope that Mama can work out something soon. With only one bathroom, I have no privacy for ANYTHING. I want to be able to take a bath and know that no one is going to walk in on me. The other day my brother, Ber-ber’s Honey Pie, and the daughter’s boyfriend all got a stomach virus. Phooey! They stunk up the bathroom something awful. I could hardly stand to go in. Mama, please move us somewhere else soon.
Living in Ber-ber’s house is like living in the middle of a street with cars running everywhere, blowing their horns all at the same time. There’s no set time to eat. If you eat what someone else thinks is theirs, watch out! The place is dirty all the time because even when you clean it up, someone comes right along and messes it up. If I didn’t have my book bag, I’d have absolutely no place to keep anything of mine. Mama takes care of our clothes as much as she can but…
Gotta go. Someone’s pushing at me to see what I’m writing. If you see blood on this page, you know that they really ticked me off.
Today is Thanksgiving. When I got up, I couldn’t think of much to be thankful for. But then we went to the soup kitchen to eat Thanksgiving dinner. It was really good. We had turkey, dressing, green beans, sweet potato casserole, cake, rolls, and all the tea we could drink. The room was decorated real pretty with paper turkeys, colorful leaves, and candles lit everywhere. The tables had white paper tablecloths. All the people there who served us were nice and happy. I wonder what it would be like to be so happy? They seemed to be having a good time so we did, too. I hated when it was time to leave.
When I got home, I went to our little nest in the living room and took a nap, or tried to. The men in the house watched the football games and were loud when they cheered for their teams.
When I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to take a good nap, I decided to list all the things that I’m grateful for. So here goes. I’m thankful for: Mama, my brother, Ber-ber, school, people who gave us a good meal, this journal, singing, my bad tooth being gone, our little nest in Ber-ber’s living room, and Jesus. Thank you, Jesus. Amen
I’m scared. I don’t want to be in Ber-ber’s house unless she or Mama is there. I don’t like any of the other people who live there. Mama’s got to get us out of here quick.
STUDY NOTES (abbreviated)
The federal definition of homelessness has four broad categories. They are:
- Living in a place not meant for human habitation, in emergency shelter, in transitional housing, or are leaving an institution where they temporarily lived.
- People who are losing their primary nighttime residence which may include a motel or hotel or a doubled up situation within fourteen days and lack resources or support networks to remain in housing.
- Families with children or unaccompanied youth who are unstably housed and likely to continue in that situation.
- People who are fleeing domestic violence, have no other residence, and lack the resources or support networks to obtain other permanent housing.
—From www.endhomelessness.org/library/entry/changes-in-the-hud-definition-of-homeless, web search August 16, 2013
Doubling up is how families often try to deal with impending homelessness. Unfortunately many do not have family or friend connections; the people of their support system may have troubles of their own; or they are no longer welcomed because they have used their friends and family too often. Angelika was fortunate because she did not have to change schools yet again when Ber-ber allowed the family to move in.
Angelika loved the holidays: Halloween and Thanksgiving. Entertainment is a bottom line value for people who live in poverty for a long time. They need a reprieve from the daily challenges of basic living. Thanksgiving in the soup kitchen was special. Usually a lot of people volunteer to help out at Thanksgiving. They want to help others and may not have family of their own in the area with whom to celebrate. They reach and give of themselves. This is wonderful. However, those who regularly work at soup kitchens wish that they did not have so many volunteers for that one day and had more people to help all the other days of the year.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
You can go to https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/ to find out information for your state and county. Visit http://www.endhomelessness.org/pages/ten-year-plan to find out more about homelessness.
Learn more about homelessness in your area. Invite someone who works with homeless people to talk with your group.
Plan a celebration for people who may eat at a soup kitchen for a time other than a regular holiday.
Angelika’s Journal is available at avenidabooks.com, at Fiction Addiction and Ten Thousand Villages in Greenville, and at online retailers. Consider inviting Beth to share this book with you.