Yesterday afternoon a friend and I were headed out to pick up another friend and grab a quick bite of dinner. We needed a break from the shuffling of boxes and other insanity. Once we arrived at the store where our friend works we discovered she was trying to find a place for a young woman to spend the night.
Apparently the lady in question had been traveling home from a visit to a northern state and had mistakingly fallen asleep at the bus terminal while waiting for her next bus. Her purse and luggage were stolen as she slept. Through a lucky set of events between her rude awakening and the moment we walked into the store, she had traveled all over town by bus looking for someone to help her. Her mother was called and was shipping a bus ticket to the police station, but it wouldn't be there for two days (today).
The police officer gave her some money but he couldn't get her a hotel room. Instead he directed her to a local homeless shelter where the poor dear did not feel safe in the least. That night she didn't sleep. The next morning she went to the Red Cross... they couldn't help her. She tried the United Way... again no help. She was headed to the mall where she could stay warm until the shelter would let her back in for the night when she saw a church. No one answered her knocks at the door, so she wandered across the street to a pizza parlor. Nobody there would help her. Then she walked past the store where our friend works.
That's where we came into the situation, quite literally.
This young woman is from the same small town in the Missouri Ozarks where I went to university and the town where my friend's father was born. In fact we know some of the same people. Ironically I happened to be wearing a St. Patrick's sweatshirt from that campus' famous week-long celebrations. The look of relief on her face when she saw it was indescribable. In fact I almost cried. This kind of situation could happen to anyone and we weren't about to let her just float in the breeze until her bus ticket arrived.
A flurry of phone calls ensued. We managed to scrape together enough cash to get the girl a hotel room for the night and took her to dinner with us. Then we took her to the store and bought her a new bag, some toiletries, some snacks, new pajamas, and clean underwear. She was just in shock that we would appear out of no where to help and "thank you" was in at least every other sentence coming out of her mouth.
When we left her at the hotel she was going to have a warm, clean bed and be able to feel clean again for the first time in a day. By this time today she should have her tickets home.
Safe travels, Kate.