Meet Jenny…and the extent of my egocentricity. #HomeForJenny

I know no other way to do this than through the filter of my own egocentricity, so that’s what I’ll do; but I want you to finally SEE Jenny – my wonderful, whip-smart, wise-cracking, tough-as-nails friend. You already know that she’s homeless, because goodness knows I’ve talked about it enough. You already know there’s a GoFundMe campaign to try to raise Β£10,000 for her to get married and (more importantly) get somewhere to live.

HomeForJenny

I suspect at some point she will tell her own story, as she is also apparently a writer.

But I want you to see her. And Gabriel. In their ‘home’ – an alcove of the 13th Century Old Walls in my city. A ‘home’ with a brick back and a cardboard front, and no…well…no anything, except what they can beg, borrow, adapt or scrounge. A ‘home’ which when Gabriel has convulsions because of a suspected brain injury, he can fall through the box wall into the public car-park which the old wall is a border of. A home with a scavenged toddler’s pushchair as an extra seat. A ‘home’ where Jenny has made a purple craft-paper window, cut into four, and stuck it in between the box/cupboard/bricks which make up the front, because sometimes even a homeless person wants to be able to look out of the window. And because purple. (Or, more likely, because that was what there was).

A ‘home’ where they’ve been for some weeks because the police made sure that their previous stoop got boarded up.

A ‘home’ I was invited into and shown around; the places where they store linen (charity shop discards) and food, and cutlery (plastic – pinched from fast food outlets whenever possible); and their nest of bedding and their suitcase of clothes and bags of odds and ends; and the little nooks and crannies between those ancient rocks, which now host sunglasses, Gabriel’s shaving mirror, and a plethora of discarded toys to brighten things up. And photos of Jenny’s beloved pets, which…well who knows where they are now.

A ‘home’ which made my heart ache, because so much care and attention had been put into constructing it, and because it was the best possible street home anyone could wish for, and so, so far removed from the cosy first-floor, clean-with-amenities flat that I was about to return to. Quickly, because it was raining and I hate rain.

So I left a smiling Jenny in her rain-spattered car-park with her box-walled house and her craft-paper window and I cycled home with a holey bin-liner of their washing (cos the day centre has a three week waiting list and one laundry volunteer (who keeps washing the towels because homeless people NEED SHOWERS, and that’s one of the things they provide)) and her phone, because the day centre doesn’t allow them long enough to charge batteries fully, and it had gone flat.

I put my bike in my shed and I walked through my garden, said hello to my nice neighbour, climbed my clean-safe stairs and unlocked my front door, dumped my shoes and bag, plugged in her phone and dragged the laundry to the kitchen. Where I shook the loose dirt from it and wrinkled my nose at the stink, and filled the machine with laundry liquid and soda crystals and hoped it would all come out clean. And then I scrubbed my hands free of the dirt and cringe of street-life engrained into cotton and transferred to skin.

And I cried:

I cried for my selfishness and abundance and the times when I don’t notice or care enough to help;

I cried for the accidents of birth and happenstance which mean I’m here and not out there;

I cried for the times when I obsess about such stupid things like worth and deserving and fat…and how there’s no headspace for such luxuries when you need to adapt to survive;

I cried because I knew I never could, and because I don’t have to;

I cried because I care, and caring hurts, and even though Love Wins, sometimes what it needs is money, which I don’t have enough of to fix this;

I cried because this isn’t the only thing I can’t fix, and all the hurts of the world came piling into my heart and smashed it to a bajillion tiny pieces;

And I cried because I hurt so much that I needed to shut down and sleep and could do so on a comfy-cosy sofa, under a warm blanket, in my own home – not a city car-park under the elements.

When I woke up, I ate a sombre dinner, texting and messaging with friends who boosted me and helped me realise a tiny bit that even though I’d managed to make my encounter somehow all about me, I wasn’t an awful, useless, horrible person.

And I realised one thing, overwhelmingly: I AM SO FUCKING LUCKY, because the causes of homelessness are so varied and awful, and there’s no reason it couldn’t be me, and at one point in my life, were it not for my friends-and-relations, it might have been me.

So I thanked my friends for caring about me. I thanked God for caring about me. I didn’t thank my family yet for looking after me and loving me, but I will. And I decided that something I *knew* I could do for Jenny was to promote this campaign with a bit more fervour and dedication.

Because yes, it needs exposure and love…but it really does need money, too.

The Village needs FUNDING

I promise you a GLORIOUS thank you, if you chip in and help.

And if we succeed, then the best thank-you of all:

Jenny, in a real home.

 

Please share this post, write your own, like Kimmie did, share the link to the campaign gofundme.com/homeforjenny, and use the hashtag #HomeForJenny on all of it.

THANK YOU, you marvellous human.

Also, if you want it (and because I do), I made a fund-raising button for your sidebar. Take the image from here and link it to the GoFundMe Campaign. And THANK YOU if you do this, too.

HomeForJenny Button

 

 

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35 thoughts on “Meet Jenny…and the extent of my egocentricity. #HomeForJenny

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  2. I love that there are other bleeding hearts in the world… and that you care enough to change things. In that tricky way the world has, I just was telling my kids tonight, why I think we all have to stop and help. Why we can’t just throw up our hands. What a beautiful post and all the best to Jenny and Gabriel!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The world works better when we all pitch in, but I think sometimes it needs someone to take notice and make the difference. I struggle to rein myself in because I just wish I could help them ALL, and feel dreadful when I have to leave some people unhelped…
      I’m glad you’re teaching your children that we all bear responsibility towards one another – they’re the next generation of people who will make a difference, and the more compassion they’re used to giving and receiving, so much the better πŸ™‚ Good for you πŸ™‚ That gives me such hope and happiness.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have always been a “bleeding heart,” and I say that having grown into and accepted who I am and what moves me. We can’t help everyone; life is hard that way. But I do believe that we do what we can, and we try to help where we can. I’ve stopped my car to push a man in a broken wheel chair, several blocks, while my then young son stood incredulous. My kids have seen me do these things, and I really hope they have learned something and internalized it. I believe they have… We can all give each other hope. xox

        Liked by 1 person

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  4. I remember being in a college class a gazillion years ago and hearing the professor say that some enormous percentage that I can no longer remember (it was at least 75%) of the homeless community was there because of some form of mental illness. I was shocked. At that time in my naivety I assumed – like I think probably most people do when they haven’t been informed otherwise – that homeless people have gotten themselves there by a mixture of bad decisions, alcoholism, or just plain being a loser. WRONG. That may be true for a handful, but it’s just not the case. Yes, some are there because of some form or another of addiction, but that’s genetic and/or situational too. More than half are there for reasons mostly out of their control for one reason or ten, and that’s a scary and hard reality to wrap your brain around. Why? Because that means it could happen to almost anyone at some point in their lives if they don’t have luck, money, caring family, and full mental capacity on their side.
    That. Is. Terrifying.

    Homeless awareness is a HUGE facet of compassion that everyone needs to have. What you are doing, Lizzi, is wonderful because you’re putting a face on homelessness. You’re making it personal, and that’s what homeless awareness needs. They aren’t just losers who asked for this. They are people like you and me. People who weren’t as fortunate during hard times in their lives. People with a struggle with addiction and/or depression and/or other mental illness.

    Thank you for what you’re doing. ❀

    Liked by 3 people

    • Jenny was robbed. And then treated atrociously by someone who was meant to be her friend. Plain and simple. Well…I daresay it’s never that cut and dried but it certainly doesn’t always come back to mental illness or addiction. I think her only real addiction is tea!

      But thank you for such beautifully encouraging words, my BW – that means so much to me, and I thoroughly appreciate it. And yes – I think it’s so important to see people first – which they are – and then any other socio-economic labels can come later, after that.

      We’re all a mixture, we’re all a mess and good and bad and not – just some of us have better circumstances/networks of people than others. I’m lucky. Very lucky.

      Like

    • Well I really desperately hope you’re right, because I’m gonna be pissed as hell if I don’t somehow manage to make SOME decent difference to her. I love how so many people are prepared to pitch in and support the campaign though – that gives me such hope πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much Louise, and thanks for sharing the campaign. I really hope it helps, and it doesn’t feel fantastic at the moment because even though there’s been HUGE success…it’s not enough yet to really make a difference to them.

      Like

    • You’re welcome, Gigi, my dear πŸ™‚ She’s quite marvellous. Used the word “banjaxed” in conversation, and gave me her mancala set because she assumed I was the only person in her ken who would know what it was and how to use it (I do), and at the time it was a pain for her to carry around.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Just checked the fund… Β£230 that’s a fabulous start…WOW! *smiling* πŸ™‚

    This is a beautiful, and incredibly heart felt post, Lizzi… made me cry! God bless your beautiful heart X

    Liked by 2 people

    • I KNOW! It’s more than doubled this evening – you were so so right about promotion and getting word out there. THANK YOU so much for all your support and input and the drive you’ve put into this. You’re absolutely incredible and I am so grateful for your energy and efforts on Jenny’s behalf.

      And yes – I had such a rough time of it today. I ran into a HUGE nasty wall of reality. And it sucks. But thank you for being there and for encouraging me so nicely. I really appreciate it ❀

      Like

    • I wish I were, because then I’d find a way to bloomin’ well FIX ALL THE THINGS and make the hurts stop. But at least I’m trying and that counts for something. Thanks for believing in me πŸ™‚

      Like

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