I answered my cell phone. It was a Monday morning and a local Pastor was frantic about a mother and seven children he came across. Having lived on the Shenandoah for several months, they had only the clothes on their back. They were dirty and needed a meal. Fortunately, the large Family-room in the downstairs of Hebron, our Women and Children's shelter had just been vacated. The church would bring them to the shelter and meet me there. The room wasn't quite ready, but we put it in high gear. Grace, the shelter monitor who lives in an attached apartment, was busy getting things ready as soon as I called to inform her of the new family.
The children, although dirty with matted hair, were all beautiful and full of smiles. They aged 1 year to 16 years. It was immediately obvious all the things they had been going without; including Mom. Mary was gentle with her children and looked worn and ragged. Taking care of seven children the best she could with no home and no income had worn her out. She needed help as desperately as her children did.
I had brought with me hairbrushes, combs, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and towels for each family member. As soon as I took out the hairbrushes and combs the girls excitedly came over and took one, two arguing over one hairbrush. It took me back to see them so excited to be able to brush their hair. Their mother scolded them for being rude and I quickly assured her and the girls we had enough for each of them and I gave them another one. Later I would find them carrying their toothbrushes around as if they were a treasure.
I spent time with her filling in paperwork, explaining our program, and trying to get through the basic necessities quickly so they could get some rest. Another church group arrived with a large meal and the children ran upstairs to the large kitchen and dining area for a hearty dinner. The sixteen year old daughter took her three year old sister by the hand.
The room was ready for a family of six, so quickly I called John, another GSA staff member and he and I went to assembling a twin over double bunk bed in the large bedroom adjoining the family room. I brought down fresh sheets, comforters, and blankets for each bed and lay them on one large dresser top. The children all came in as they finished eating dinner to watch the room being prepared; anticipating their own bed. The excitement in the children's eyes was an absolute blessing to me. I told them they could choose their blanket if they would like to and each one came and clutched a blanket and then chose a bed. Each one waited for me to be ready to fix theirs. The ten year old girl went busily about spreading her sheets on her bed most excitedly. One young son took his comforter and pillow and slid to the floor in front of the dresser, hugging them tightly as he watch his top bunk being put together. He looked up at me excitedly and said, They are fixing my bed! That is my bed! I will never forget his sweet face. What a small thing to do to bring such joy to a child, but to give him a bed to sleep in. Needless to say, they each had a warm meal, a warm soft bed, and people at GSA who would love them for the next several months.
This is one of many, many families; some big, some small. Please help us help them and be a blessing to someone today.
I have an emergency. There is a family of eight – they are homeless and have been living on the Shenandoah River the past several months. They need somewhere to go, can GSA help?
What is going on? I have been trying to help this homeless woman for four hours! Everyone says they cannot help! This is crazy! What is a person supposed to do!
But she is pregnant and will have no where to go! What do you mean you are full? What will she do? Where can she go?
This is the Lansdowne Hospital calling, we have a woman in our lobby who has been there all night. I think she is homeless. What should we do?
This is Sergeant Smith from the Leesburg Police, we have a woman and two children in need of shelter - can you take them?
Our house is being foreclosed on. We have two school-aged children. We don’t have anywhere to go – can you help?
We moved here from Maryland for my wife’s job. The apartment we were supposed to rent is no longer available. We cannot find anything we can afford until I find a job too and have spent all our money on hotels. Can you help us?
I am at a pay phone. My husband has beaten me and I am afraid to go home. Can you help me?