Thursday, January 30, 2014


(Name Changed to Protect Privacy)

The temperature outside was 25 degrees.

Grace was huddled on the sidewalk with her beautiful well cared for dog.

She had her dog wrapped up in a blanket and snuggled up against her. As I handed Grace a pair of socks I noticed that her hands were bare and they were turning blue so I offered her extras to use to cover her hands. She said, "Are you sure? I don't want to take any out of the hands of others that can use them." (I hear this statement often and I am ALWAYS amazed). I replied "Don't worry some very kind people have been helping me with funds so I can continue to hand out socks." She thanked me several times.

Then I asked her where she was going to go tonight? It is something I have been curious about more and more lately. Where do women go when the shelters are full?

This is her story. 

She is a recovering addict and has been sober for two years. Her eyes were clear, she was articulate and she was very proud of continuing in her sobriety despite the uncertainty she faces each day. When she is healthy she tries to do outreach and help others to become sober.

She is currently in a temporary shelter but she doesn't know how long she will be able to stay there as it is always a fluid thing with so many over packed shelters in NYC. She panhandles for money so she can get extra food, toiletries and pay for more minutes on her phone. She looks for work too but as you can imagine living on the streets makes it even harder to find work when you don't have interview clothes and a place to shower each day.

Five men raped Grace while on the Lower East Side one night two years ago. Grace is recovering from Cancer. And, she has sores and blood clots on her legs from being out in the cold for extended periods of time. A few weeks ago she had suffered so badly from hypothermia that the Fire Dept. came and rescued her off of the streets. Her temperature had reached 105. She refused to leave her dog behind. As her dog is not only her best friend but also provides protection so having her dog by her side at all times is vital. They promised that her dog would be safe. She was passing in and out of conscientiousness and was worried that they would not keep their promise. They found a temporary shelter for her dog (nice work NYFD).

When Grace woke up in the hospital the next day her dog was by her side in her bed. Her eyes were tearing up a little as she was telling me her story. I could tell that she was holding them back. I was too.

I told her about Nikki the Doctor that I am partnering with that does outreach to the homeless and provides care along with her team to those in need on the streets. Grace said she has a phone service that she shares with a few other people and that she adds minutes to it when there are enough funds to do so on a family plan. A phone is an important thing to have but not easy to keep when one doesn't have money to cover the cost. Plus the worry that someone may steal it. Think about how you panic when you leave your phone at home. Now imagine being on the street without one.

She gave me her number. I immediately called Nikki and told her Grace's story. Nikki of course said: "We will absolutely take care of her. Call her back and let her know of the two locations that she can go to for our services." I called Grace. She was so happy and grateful to get the call. With some luck Grace will be feeling better after they see her. Unfortunately she will also have to return to the streets to face another day of just trying to get by.

If you want to assist by donating funds see the link below. Every bit counts. It's even better if you commit to a monthly donation. Give up one coffee a week. If you and every person you know were to make a monthly $5.00 donation (you can cancel at anytime) just imagine the impact we could make together!

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