The first time I “slept out” I texted my sons as the night progressed, hoping that they could understand what had motivated me. Please read and you will get some perspective on the event:
It's midnight and I'm settling in to my sleeping bag atop a thin piece of cardboard resting on the sidewalk of Basin Street near North Rampart across from Armstrong Park. I spent the evening meeting young people who either made bad choices or were dealt an extremely bad hand. They now find themselves in this place. The common theme among them seems to deal with isolation: either they have been abandoned by their families or have pulled away from them for reasons often difficult for the residents to articulate. I have found these young people to be surprisingly bright and optimistic considering the circumstance. They are from all over the country, all single, black and white, some with small children. They are too young to be discarded by society. The courage is shown not by the sleepers (as they call us) but by the people who live here and the staff members who salvage/mentor them. I am tired and will fall asleep easily.
It's 4:15. I woke up at 2:30, which is not unusual for me. But I am having one hell of a time going back to sleep. There is something particularly unnerving about a shout in the distance or a dog barking when you are sleeping on the sidewalk. Hard to imagine be this being my normal.
It's 5:45 and the facility is buzzing. Kids are up getting ready for school or for work. Most that I met work in hospitality industry, hotels or restaurants, probably minimum wage jobs. But it is a start. This place is transitional: from crisis to stability, from stability to independence. But it gives the residents a place in which to grow and dream and to believe life can be better than it was when they arrived. In a little while I will head back to our home, better for the experience, grateful to my parents and hopeful that I can help you, my sons, better understand how blessed we are.
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