I Only Drove 0.5 Miles
I bet you didn't expect to hear from me again so soon. I spent all morning working on getting Fatima set up with funds to keep her family homed in a motel for the next week. I received a lot of donations and only need $30 to reach the goal of reimbursing me since I already gave her $500 in faith that the human community would show up for her if they knew her story. It was an impactful series of events for my own personal growth and development of empathy for sure and I was really tired. I decided I'd go to just one protest today... y'know, take it easy. So I headed south on Johnston St not even 0.5 miles before I saw another woman on the corner, asking for money. She had her two children in tow.
You know that feeling when you put out a fire and you blink and see another one has started? Well, just imagine. OK, that's how this felt. It was a unfiltered, immediate reaction and I began to think fast. I realized I still had some cash leftover from my Zumba cash. Certainly not using that right now! So, two lanes from where she stood, I lowered my window and called out to her. Her face looked shocked, her eyes brightened, and she ran over to my car. I held out the stack of bills to her. I just wanted to give her what I could and then planned to head forward with my day. She was speechless, the desperation she was facing so clear from the immense amount of gratefulness. She blessed me again and again, told me she would pray for me. I told her we take care of each other. Then her face suddenly got desperate again and she cried, "sister, sister, please.... can you help me??" And I said, "yes, do you want me to pull over and we can talk?" She said, "yes, please!" So I cut off a bus and turned the corner to park and talk to her.
Once we were together, she started talking a mile a minute, telling me that they have no money. I tried to calm her down and get her to tell me what's going on. She said that she and her husband are newly here from Romania and can't find jobs. She despaired, "The president won't help!!" I asked her where her husband was. She said he's in another part of the city, "asking" like she is. I asked her if she'd been able to collect any money standing on the corner. She said I am the first one to give to her and that I gave her enough for them to have a place to stay tonight and to eat. I asked her if we could gather up supplies for her and her family. She declined and suggested that money would be much more helpful. I thought about it and it made a lot of sense. They can't really stockpile and store supplies right now. They simply need some capital. I told her that I would tell as many people as I could. I told her I don't have money of my own but that I could go on the internet and talk to all the people who would be willing to help. I told her I could promise anything... just that I would try as hard as I could. I told her that right now our government is not helping those of us who need help so it is up to all of us to take the responsibility to take care of one another.
We discussed setting a goal. I asked her what her family really needs right now. She said that if they could get 2-3 weeks of expenses to give them time to find a job, that would be HUGE. We calculated together that the family's expenses are about $200/day. $1400 will give them a week. $2800 will give them 2 weeks. $4200 will give them 3 weeks. So I am looking to raise whatever I can for them, with the dream goal being $4200. I cannot do this on my own. I cannot do this just with my friend list (I've already tapped them for other causes). I need all of humanity. So I need this to go viral, as it were. This is grassroots welfare, y'all. This is socialism. Please share this cause on social media, even if you can't contribute. The more people this can reach, the better the chances we can get those two kids covered by a roof and with tummies filled with doritos and grapes (what they were eating when we visited).
Lastly, I want to mention that I'm aware of the stickiness of posting pictures of individuals in vulnerable positions in life. I spoke with Amina and told her that people might feel more inclined to support her if they could feel familiar with her through an image. She asked if I wanted a picture of her and her kids. I said I didn't want to make her uncomfortable or put her on display. She enthusiastically said that I could take a picture of her and her girls. Were she not as enthusiastically okay with it as she was, I wouldn't be sharing this picture.
To donate, please use Venmo (@delephant) or PayPal (firstname.lastname@example.org). I have begun a spreadsheet to track all the revenue coming in and who it's being distributed to so that I am transparent and accountable to you all. Here's a preview of what it presently looks like: