What would you do if you were homeless? Would you give up, would you keep fighting, or would you ask for help if you couldn’t do it all by yourself? “Ro” (as she would like to be referred to as) is homeless, 55-years old, and is a veteran of the United States Air Force. She has fought hard to get herself into a place she can call her own, but yet she still has the desire to help others just like her at the same time.
“In January 2014, communities across America identified 49,933 homeless veterans during point-in-time counts, which represents 8.6 percent of the total homeless population.” – Source: National Alliance to End Homelessness (http://www.endhomelessness.org/library/entry/fact-sheet-veteran-homelessness)
Ro’s story goes back to when she had been honorably discharged from the USAF, thinking things would be fine and she would pursue a normal, civilian life. Only, she was diagnosed with a heart murmur and hypertension. The Department of Veteran’s Affairs office for Disability have denied her claims to receive compensation. They do, however, help with her medical bills, but not with anything else.
For reasons not disclosed, Ro has been unemployed for quite some time. Ro has a wide range of skills, that just doesn’t have a demand for someone like her right now. Due to her location, the market is down in terms of job availability, but it isn’t for a lack of trying. Ro is diligently filling out job applications, even if they aren’t the most ideal of employment opportunities, but she realizes that something is better than nothing. Another factor in the difficult job hunting, is her age. Some employers do not want to hire anyone that is close to the average retirement age. Right now Ro does have a promising job, provided she passes the background check they have in-progress. This is in thanks to the agency she has been working with, but limits her scope of finding a job to a specific region.
The lack of employment has made so that Ro has been living out of her car and seldomly has been able to take refuge for a night or two at a friend’s house. Then, in terms of hygiene, Ro has had to wash-up in bathrooms of 24-hour Wal-Marts, and other similar locations. Ro has developed a system to avoid being seen during this time in her life. What makes matters worse is that the registration tags on her license plates have expired. With no way to have the car inspected, let alone re-register, driving around for any reason is a dangerous proposition.
With what funds Ro does have, she has been unable to get a place to live, while the monetary compensation previously mentioned does come from the Veteran’s Affairs office, it seems many rental agencies and individuals do not feel comfortable receiving checks from the federal government. It’s an unfortunate situation, where it is compounding in ways Ro cannot reasonably handle.
Ro has a vision. That vision is to help abused and homeless women. That mission statement doesn’t go beyond that, as if there are no limitations to the help she wants to provide. Right now, Ro blogs and shares information online with how to get help, but in terms of taking action to help others, the lack of funds from her prevents from doing so. In this mission, she would like it to be her primary job, in that she gets paid for her contributions to helping other abused and homeless women find jobs, places to live, or just shelters to remain safe until they land on their feet.
Ultimately, Ro would like a personal and elegant touch to services provided for women who are homeless and/or victims of domestic abuse. The idea would be a safe haven, a large home for women to go to so that they may receive food, clothing, a psychiatrist, and classes for job interviews and obtaining job skills. It is important for Ro that these women be pampered and cared for, like they haven’t been before, or recently. They need to be able to relax, let their guard down, and accept the help they are given with no questions asked. This includes being able to provide these women with money to free themselves of whatever situation they are in.
Right now, there are once-a-month meetings between her and anyone who joins to focus on bettering themselves, and not settling on what they can get, but by seizing the opportunity and taking what they want without reservation or hesitation. There is no set location for them to have these meetings, so sometimes they’ll go bowling, to the movies, to dinner, or just have a sit-down talk about it. It’s not where you seek or give help, but how.
Ro’s heart is bigger than her wallet, and is something inspiring for someone in the same situation she intends to help. If you would like to read Ro’s blog, which focuses on domestic violence. She is an advocate for victims and survivors. She provides help in how to get out of an abusive situation, and how to help those who can’t get out on their own. You can find Ro’s blog here: http://intheknowwithro.blogspot.com/. If you want to help, comment and share ideas so that it could encourage women to attend more of her meetings.
Ro is no doubt still serving, long after her career in the Air Force has ended, and this selflessness has garnered Operation Supply Drop’s attention and care. At the time of this writing, Operation Supply Drop has helped Ro financially and physically through The Teams program, by providing funds to secure a place of her own and moving into that new place, respectfully. While that place has some plumbing issues, Ro is happy to have a roof over her head. Hopefully in a short period of time, Operation Supply Drop’s wide range of contacts should get Ro fully employed so she can maintain a life supported only by herself, and continue to help others in similar situations so they don’t have to be on the streets, or danger for longer than they have to be.
If you ever need a reminder, President Ronald Reagan once said, “We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.”