The Worn Out Shoe

I won’t ever forget seeing Marjie’s eyes light up when we gave her the new purple, girlie bike at Hope Gardens. She zipped around the Hope Gardens Family Center campus, dodging speed bumps and enjoying the joy and freedom of cruising in open spaces. Later in the day, I saw her sit under the shade of an oak tree, lean back and look around to take in the amazing scenery and sense the peace that she was now experiencing. She looked like the picture of what I sense I might look like on the day that I arrive in heaven and take in the streets of gold, glassy sea, and Glory of God. Later, when I heard what she, her mom and little brother had experienced, I understood.

I learned that they had fled their home and abusive father; he continually broke her mom’s legs. Their escape landed them on the mean streets of Skid Row, sleeping in a box, where they witnessed a man being killed in front of their eyes as they scooted closer to the inside wall of the box and against a building to stay out of the violent situation. Their last stop before Hope Gardens was an agency doing the best that it could, as they struggle with NIMBY issues and don’t yet have a building of their own. Since this agency doesn’t have a building of its own, it causes the homeless moms and children to meet up in the afternoon at 4:30 each day and head to a number of rotating churches who opened up each evening to allow folks to eat dinner and sleep on the floor on sleeping cushions until 5:00 each morning. The families then had to walk the time away during the day until 4:30 would arrive again the next afternoon.

When Marjie and her mom and brother arrived at Hope Gardens Family Center, they slept in for quite awhile – as you can imagine exhaustion from the agency’s schedule. Mom was worn out, sick, and needed lots of rest. The family moved into a beautiful two room apartment with two baths; new bunk beds, made with care by men in a El Paso mission; new sheets and bedcovers, donated by friends of the Mission; and a beautiful place of their own amidst coast redwoods, oak trees, roses, and rolling grass.

In a recent story covered in the news, 9 year old Marjie held up her worn out shoe as a symbol and sign that her days of sleeping in a box or walking the hot pavement from 5:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. were over. The picture was powerful. The picture caused quite an uproar from folks who contemplated that little girl walking the hot pavement while some folks held up the families from moving to Hope Gardens Family Center. Marjie’s mom says that the shoe tells a thousand stories and Marjie will always keep it close to remind her of how far she has come and how well she is doing now. As of the day she moved in, Marjie is wearing a new pair of shoes. Thank you, for making this possible.

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