When the goal is survival

September is working to improve her life through employment with One Step Away and earns enough money to attain her own housing. She can be found distributing the newspaper in Center City.

By September

Before my experience working for One Step Away, I thought I understood the issues that were happening in the homeless community. I felt like a lot of the people who made the choice to sleep and actually live outside on the street had given up on life itself. In some instances that is the case, but some others just can’t seem to find the help and resources they need.

When you find yourself in that unfortunate situation, there are not many places you can go. This time of year most shelters are full, but because of the weather they take people in at night and put them on cots on the floor. The problem with this is they let them in late and kick them out early. That leaves a person with nowhere to go and hours that they have to spend wandering in the cold. The resting place is just that, so they also leave as dirty as they were when they came in.

I know from personal experience how hard it can be to overcome situations like this, because when you’re homeless your number one goal is just to survive.

This time last year I was living in a halfway house, which was my only option for housing. I knew if I didn’t have a job and money saved by the time my five months at the halfway house were up, homelessness could be my fate. In those five months I went to school and took job training classes.

One of my favorite places to go was the Chosen 300 Church, located on Spring Garden Street. At Chosen 300, they feed individuals who are homeless or just hungry. I went there to eat, but I would also volunteer there often, trying to give back as a form of community service.

I got to know a lot of the men, women, and families that came there regularly. I still see many of the people I met there. We trade resources for housing, employment, food, and clothing in those brief periods. Then it’s back to doing whatever is needed to survive.

Fortunately, I don’t have to sleep outdoors, but being a One Step Away vendor exposes me to a lot of the things I know the homeless have to face 24 hours a day. When I find myself cold and tired from spending eight hours outside working, I find joy in the fact that I don’t have to sleep outside. I have a dry warm place to rest my head, because I am able to earn money to pay rent. That is thanks to you and the best resource I could find: One Step Away.