I had quite a night last night visiting our Burbank Winter Shelter.
I ran into two wonderful UCLA students, getting their Master’s in Public Policy. They are volunteering their time to do a study for Burbank determining the number of people who are homeless and working with a coalition to address the needs of homelessness in Burbank.
I met a young man, who has been working and saving his money while staying at the shelter, and he announced that he has his own place! He was extremely happy and proud. Another man had good news as well. We had originally found him driving a newer model car, but in great need of shelter. He had lost his job and nearly everything, except his nice car, and found himself homeless. Yesterday, he received word that he has a high paying technical job in Texas and they are even paying the relocation costs! These men, who are very thankful to us and the city of Burbank for providing shelter from the rain and cold, then introduced me to a remarkable woman. I will call her Betsy.
Betsy’s 87th Birthday was last night and we had a party for her complete with a cake. All of the homeless folks were celebrating because she is very special — not just because of her age! Betsy is a mom — a remarkable mom. She called me over and had me sit down on the cot across from her to tell me her story. “I came over from Asia to America to check on my daughter. I found her homeless, and having severe mental health issues. I could not leave her. I stayed with her. She needs help. I cannot leave her.”
My heart broke. Here is a mom, who loves her daughter so much that she has assumed her daughter’s homelessness, experiencing the hardship along with her daughter. Betsy comes into an armory each night at 5:30 P.M, receives a meal, showers, wakes up at 5:00 A.M., and wanders the streets all day, because she cannot abandon her troubled daughter.
As everyone celebrated her birthday around us, Betsy whispered to me, “I am so ashamed!” I had to do something. It was like sitting across from my own extraordinary mom. I met with her case worker and we made arrangements to expedite housing for this precious lady and her daughter. An 89 year old donor had called me earlier in the week and told me that she wanted to help 1 person in need. I decided that Betsy would be that person. We are working today to put her up in a motel until permanent housing is expedited. I wish I could show you a picture of Betsy, but she said she had been sick with the flu and wanted to wait until she was more presentable for a picture.
Just imagine the sweetest face you have ever seen. Imagine a mom who would go to these lengths to look after her daughter. Then imagine her as she leaves the shelter today and moves into her own place.
God bless you, Andy B.