Homeless and Hungry at Providence Crossroads

A woman’s story of falling between the cracks, in an already desperate set of circumstances

Hi my name is Mary, Keisha, Dee, Rena or maybe I’m someone you just passed on the street or in the mall or even someone YOU may work with. I am an adult woman that is finding it hard to understand why I am crying myself to sleep hungry every night in such a well-run institution like Crossroads.

I found myself without a safe and warm, or even at times, a comfortable place to lay my head for the night with the blessing of a full belly and sometimes the desperately needed basic human comfort of sisterly companionship.

The reasons why I find myself at Crossroads Woman’s Shelter, is at present of little importance to my small story. It could be an addiction, a physical or mental handicap, and an abusive relationship that sent me running into the welcoming arms of an allegedly safe harbor like Crossroads.

It could simply be that I can no longer hold on with every fiber of my being and with my fingernails to my home. I may even have been working as many hours and just as hard as you do at times. I simply need a place to take a breather for myself with some semblance of my human dignity, some lost part of woman-hood that I sorely miss.

The first thing I did after finding myself homeless was get angry with everyone including myself for “letting” this happen. Then I cried, yes my sisters and my brothers, my mother and fathers, I will still cry at times, when no one can see me to judge me or laugh at me. Because my loves, this can and yes, it does happen to even the “Normal People.” The second thing I did was wander into 160 Broad Street, Providence. I was told they would help, well let us please….

Now I as well as you most likely have heard of Crossroads from the media, or from passing by it on Broad Street, or maybe even from someone at some intersection somewhere in our once great city of Providence, holding a sign gently pleading for spare change and yes my loves, I myself might even have casually ignored someone like me in the past too. My point is we all know of Crossroads. Don’t we?

Well, I feel the need to tell you that there is such a great and incomprehensibly injustice at Crossroads, that my very soul is torn over just shutting up and going again tonight without the basic human need for a hot meal to help me sleep and sometimes to help keep the nightmares away for just a few hours while not making any waves. Or just listening to the screaming Banshee inside of every woman that cries out to help those wronged or who are just left behind…

So please bear with me my dears, as I try to calm down and let you judge for yourselves if any Rhode Islander, nay any human woman deserves to hear the phase… “Sorry, but you simply fell between the crack of an overloaded system” or “(no apology here) There is no budget to feed you or the other 5 women.”  Or what I was told today Wednesday, February 2, 2011 by an Administrative leader at Crossroads, that has hurt me to my very core of my soul, that has made me doubt why I should keep on fighting for my future… “We are only obligated to feed the women at Crossroads women’s shelter, we will not feed the 5 to 10 women at the shelter…”

When asked to please explain this, that same great and powerful man behind the curtain of Crossroads and in the weekly meeting in the Common Room. “We are only contractually obligated to feed the women at the Crossroads women’s, not our guests at the overflow shelter.”

With that statement the subject as well as my hopes and prayers that he and the truly great and hardworking staff members at Crossroads will quickly fix this “oversight” was dropped, like a heavy undesirable burden.

I simply was dismissed without as much as a second thought. This administrative leader was more concerned over homeless men “bothering” him over not having enough RIPTIKS, than just a few women-just two pregnant women, a few senior citizens and myself going hungry again at “his” shelter.

Please understand I am not whining. I am not stating that Crossroads is a bad place, far from it, factually. From the tireless dedication of your case workers and the psychiatric and medical staff, our brilliant instructions and hope given to me by the Crossroads vocational department from the never-ending patience of the front desk staff and the discipline and quiet strength of our security and safety officers, along with the dependable, professional efficient elegance of our janitorial staff, members of Crossroads can never be at fault here.

No, I simply am trying to understand why and how I am expected to get back to being myself and get over this setback in my life, when the trust and faith in my fellow Rhode Islanders is shattered every evening that I end up hungry, scared and alone in the dark without the longed for and much anticipated blessing of just a simple hot meal; when I am told that my going without is “justifiable” due to a depleted or mismanaged budget? How would you handle this, my loves?

I have witnessed nightly over the last few weeks, with great confusion, bewilderment and yes, my dears, with the persistent nagging pains of sorrow and hunger, the fact that men who live in The Tower (a boarding house styled housing complex, the very same men who have the opportunity to prepare their own food and eat in their rooms) above the Crossroads women’s shelter are walking around and over my new mat on the floor of the cafeteria to receive a nice, hot and at times plentiful evening meal to take back to their rooms; while I and just a few other women in need around them go hungry… again.

There is a budget for these men, but not for just few women sleeping on the cold hard floor?

But I am told it is just the way things are done here in the bowels of the great Crossroads machine. Just learn to live with it, girl. Don’t make waves they will punish us all, if you do. Just live with it, sister… we’re just homeless, it’s expected by the rest of our great society. Just find some other way to feed yourself. Just don’t worry about it nothing can be done …

Is this common practice? Is this all the great and all-powerful Crossroads can or is willing to offer me, for any other young woman? For a sister, a daughter, an aunt a niece, a friend, a woman of God, a mother, an urban earth goddess, a grandmother, or even a great grandmother; is a forced feeling of being undeserving? Of being unequal to men whom are traveling in the same troubled waters as I am?

Can you please help us to get just a well needed and greatly appreciated simple evening meal, before the lights are turned out sobs start anew? Can you please sleep on it tonight while I cry myself into an exhausted depressed submission, again the evening? Can you think of what I have to whisper to you please? Can you live with this?
Truly, thank you for listening to this, this small unimportant story of mine…

Good night, my loves…


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