A story of compassion for McComb's most vunerable.
If you ever have the chance to sit down with Sarah Connerly (Greater Hope Homeless Shelter founder and owner) you might be amazed to hear the compassionate stories of her guests.
Recently, at the fundraiser Farmers for Greater Hope an elderly gentleman walked down the street with his newspaper tucked under his arm. He saw Sarah and she greeted him excitedly and they exchanged happy updates on how things were.
My assumption, he was a friend. Nice guy. Enjoying the beautiful day and on his way for a walk to find a place to enjoy his newspaper. And yes, he was all those things.
Later, after the event I would sit down with Sarah and we would talk about misconceptions. I ask about the misconceptions I have heard or read about such as “get a job like the rest of us”.
Sarah answers my question with a real life example of who can be homeless.
“Jollean, you remember that elderly man that walked by us today? The one with the newspaper?”
“Yes”. I reply.
Sarah continues, “He is 72 year old. He stayed here for a short time when he was kicked out of his apartment. And let me tell you, he did not want to be here. He told me everyday ‘I am 72 years old, I don’t belong in no homeless shelter’. He had nowhere to go. He spent every day going through his newspaper to look for a place to stay. Got up each day to look for places. We helped him store some of his furniture and belongings”.
Sarah did not ask why he was kicked out of his apartment, her role is not to judge. Her immediate focus is on his need in that moment for a roof over his head.
The majority of people grow up knowing a roof over our head. May not be the prettiest roof but having shelter is usually a norm. Now imagine, a moment in your life that takes away that norm and how you might feel.
No washroom to run to.
No place to hide from rain.
No cooking space.
No electrical outlets to plug something in.
No bed to sleep soundly on behind walls that make you feel secure.
It would be terrifying!
In Mississippi almost 1200 people experience homelessness a day.
There can be many reasons for homelessness. A google search will present you with a plethora of stats that give you a picture of who is most vulnerable.
Sarah has already seen this first hand and without the stats will tell you.
Young, single males with no family support system.
Mental & physical disabilities.
Those battling with addictions.
Her story of the elderly gentleman is a great example of why places like Greater Hope need to exist. Transitional homeless makes up the largest reason for the need for shelter. Working poor or those living with incomes with no free cash flow, often have to choose between paying the rent and eating. Or paying the light bill this month vs paying what is owed on the rent. Eventually, it catches up to them and then leaves them in a situation where they are in the short term, homeless.
Greater hope is filling a gap that exists in McComb and surrounding area and throughout the United States to provide transitional shelter for those in their moment of need. She is preventing the most vulnerable from sleeping under bridges and slipping even farther down the path of desperation.
What happened to her 72 year old guest? Well, he is back to living on his own. Within 2 weeks he found a home. He was like most people, determined not to be homeless, he just needed a hand.
We all need a hand now and then. Some of us are blessed with large families, maybe an above average job or maybe both. But at some point in our life we will all need a hand with something. Greater Hope Homeless Shelter is offering a hand to those who have nowhere else to turn.
Sarah cannot do it alone and is always in search of help.
Volunteer, donate and advocate for public services that help those transition from poverty to independence.
To learn more about Sarah and the story of Greater Hope Homeless Shelter visit here or visit her website Greater Hope Homeless Shelter
To donate to the shelter visit here.
As always folks, be friendly. Be kind!
Thanks for reading.