Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Today I Chose To Not Look Away From A Homeless Pregnant Woman

There's a busy intersection near my house where it's often common to find someone panhandling, holding up a sign with a brief message on a piece of cardboard looking for some spare change. Out of work, anything would help. Traveling through town, no car, no money, God Bless. Mother down on my luck, please help. I've become accustomed to seeing the same faces on particular days, often wondering if they have an agreement as to which days they can have the spot.

Today was the last day of my husband's vacation. We were headed off to the suburbs to catch a movie with the girls. We pulled into the gas station which sits just adjacent to the corner where someone always needs a little spare change. I noticed a petite woman, her skin tanned dark brown by this point of the summer, standing in the blazing hot afternoon sun. She's visibly pregnant and although I couldn't make out exactly what her sign said, it was apparent she's going through a rough time. It was hard to clearly see her face from across the parking lot, but it looked as if she was holding back tears.

I've seen this woman before, maybe a handful of times. She typically has a grande iced coffee on the sidewalk next to her and I wonder if someone has given it to her or if it's what brings her a little ray of hope during this rough patch. The last time I saw her, she was crossing the street smoking a cigarette. I wanted so desperately to pull over and ask her to just put the cigarette out, for the baby. In that moment, I silently vowed, well she's not getting a dime from me so she can buy cigarettes while pregnant. I instantly felt awful for thinking those thoughts, for judging her. I don't know her or her story, but there's just something about seeing a homeless pregnant woman that weighs heavily on my heart.

I asked my husband to turn around so I could run into the grocery store. Everyone was wondering what I needed and in that moment, I just clarified I needed a quick stop into the market. I ran in, leaving my family in the car. I loaded a hand basket up with cherries, peaches, baby carrots, strawberries, bananas, cut up pineapple, cubed cheese, and a few protein smoothies. I ran out to the car, back to my family. I asked J to drive back to the corner.

When we pulled up at the red light, there was a couple talking to the woman, who indeed was crying. They were giving her money and I quickly just handed her the bag of food. There was just an overwhelming feeling that came over me to feed this pregnant woman, I had to act. I wanted to help nourish her baby and give her body some nutrients to stay strong and healthy. The woman that was chatting her up at the time came over to my car at the red light. She asked me if I specifically bought the food for the pregnant woman that stands on the corner. I told her I did. She proceeded to tell me that if everyone just bought an extra apple it would make such a difference to this handful of people we see daily, living life on the streets, not knowing where their next meal would come from.

She looked straight into my eyes and told me, she will never forget this moment and thanked me.

With tears streaming down my face, I agreed with her. I won't forget it either.

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9 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting this. Thank you for doing that for that woman and her child. You're a good human. :)

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  2. A few weeks ago, an older man approached me in a parking lot with a story of how he and his son had been hired for a job, came all the way from Arkansas, and then were not paid. He said they were days away from starving with no friends or family nearby and no way of going home. I didn't give him money because I was busy loading four kids and my purchases into my car. The minute I drove away, I regretted it. After my next errand, I drove back to the lot to ask him what he and his son would like for lunch--I'd go buy it. He was gone. I don't know if he was scamming me or not, but I so deeply regretted not asking him while he was there.

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  3. What a wonderful gift you gave her, and us, by sharing this. Warms my heart and brings tears to my eyes!

    (YAY to comments being on!)

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  4. I agree that in those moments when we feel that need to act deep in our gut/spirit, we must act. I've felt this way before too.

    You are good people.

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  5. You did good...I got a bit jaded after living in San Francisco for 9 years. I've been lucky lately that I've been volunteering for a school backpack program. A grocery store let us take their "imperfect" food and fill it up for the kids over the weekends. A few times, we had way too much food---too much for us to store. So, I drove around to corners where I had seen guys asking for money/food. They were unbelievably happy to have fresh bread, deli sandwiches and bagged lettuce (with the salad dressing and all). I knew one guy must have been starving when he sat down immediately and started eating a ham & cheese sandwich in the pouring rain. Who cared if he used money to buy cigs or beer later. He seemed pretty hungry in that moment.

    I never really realized how many homeless pregnant moms there are. I donated a bunch of my pregnancy/baby stuff to a group in San Francisco called "Homeless Prenatal". So sad that a homeless prenatal group has to exist at all.

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  6. That was a great thing to do. One comment about the cigarettes, she probably doesn't buy them. People are more likely to give someone a cigarette than they are to give them a couple of bucks to buy food.

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  7. thanks for this...

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I always appreciate the gesture to stop and take a moment to comment. Thank you!