Another letter to Sargeant Sam Cox at KLBJ/AM, Austin, TX
My name is Sheri Jones and I am the primary coordinator for IHN at St. John’s United Methodist church. I would like to invite you to come to our church any night this week and meet the families we are hosting.
Since it was brought out that you have never been homeless, let me present you with a scenario that could happen to any of us. Imagine yourself as a husband and father with two children. You and your wife both work, have excellent jobs and your family is well insured through your job. You have a nice house, two cars with, of course the obligatory car payments, just two credit cards and a very modest savings. (No one saves like they should) One morning you are called in to your bosses office and laid off through no fault of your own. Companies downsize all time especially now in light of the current economic stresses. You get two weeks vacation, two weeks severance and have your insurance coverage for a month. You can COBRA your insurance but it will cost you $800 a month.
Oh my, I forgot to mention that one of your children has a chronic medical condition that until now was covered by your insurance. Despite your best efforts, you are unable to find a job at anywhere near your former salary. You first lose one car, deciding you can replace it when you find a job and sharing a car, although a hardship, is a better option. One afternoon on the way home from work, your wife is involved in a traffic accident. The car can be fixed but your wife faces months being out of work. It is the snowball effect.
I could go on but you get my drift. These families in transition are not here because they are bums who want to live under the bridge. They are not families of thieves that run amuck through the city. They are families in crisis. They opted to get into a program that will provide SAFE housing for their families, food for them to eat, and a support system to help them manage all the obstacles they face to getting back on their feet.
Right now at St. John’s we are housing 5 children under the age of 2 and their familes. Since you have never been homeless I doubt you can imagine what it would be like to not have a home to house your a six week old baby. I know I can’t.
It is our responsibility to love our neighbor as ourselves. No, I can’t save the world and neither can you. But why don’t you bring a package of size 6 Pampers and join us for dinner one night this week. Oh yeah, bring your lap, too…those darling kids love to be held. I hope you are good at basketball, they all love to play. While you are there with all of the St. John’s families, I believe you will find it hard to pick out which ones are homeless and which are congregational families that are there in support. We all look the same, just families caring for other families in our own way.
Oh and Sam, if your family ever does fall on hard times and need help, let me recommend IHN. St. John’s and all the other host and support churches would take good care of your family, too.
Faith, Hope, Love, and Joy,