Sitting with the Homeless (by Kaze Gadway)
Gabriela left the homeless population two years ago. After her one daughter died in a car accident, she become addicted to heroin and lost her job. After being evicted, she started living on the streets.
After eight years, she turned around and worked with a sponsor to get off drugs and into a rehab program. She moved into a Title Eight apartment and began to volunteer her time with the homeless in Albuquerque.
I met her at the park where many homeless people sleep at night and sit during the day. She buys water with her limited income and sits at a park table to talk to people and hand out water.
Everyone likes to sit down and talk to her. She has lived on the street and gotten out. She speaks her native Spanish to the Latino population and English to everyone else.
Although she has several physical problems including a Bi-polar diagnosis, she doesn’t give up on awarding dignity to a population that is often treated as invisible. She visits the homeless on the streets every week and volunteers to hand out food daily at a soup kitchen.
I ask her what keeps her going. She tells me “It is not much but at my age it is something I can do to spread hope.”
She does not change the system of homelessness. Her presence has a ripple effect among those who have few to care for them individually. I hold her up as an unsung hero of presence in a community of indifference.