I sat down to write this post on what was being called the hottest day of summer so far. With temperatures 10 degrees higher than normal, I was reminded of how challenging (and even life-threatening) the summer can be for people who are homeless. I was also reminded of Lisa – a woman who came to Calvary on a miserably humid summer day two years ago.
Lisa moved into Calvary Women’s Shelter late one afternoon in the hottest part of the day. Wheezing from asthma, flushed from the high temperature, and nursing a black eye and cuts on her neck compliments of her boyfriend, Lisa told me she knew she had to come in to the shelter or she would die. Even though she was working part-time as a housekeeper in a hotel, Lisa was living in a downtown park. All of her income was supporting her boyfriend’s drug habit so he kept very close tabs on her. Lisa felt completely stuck. She didn’t know how to escape.
But that last night of getting beat up and then laying on a blanket under a tree as the temperature rose into the 90s was more than she could endure. She made a decision to change her life.
Rarely do our decisions have such life-or-death consequences. Rarely do our decisions require as much courage as Lisa’s required.
From that one decision – to leave a violent situation – Lisa’s life changed dramatically. Through her hard work and faith in herself, she now lives in her own apartment and cares for her grandchild. She is a survivor of cancer and an advocate for women struggling against domestic violence.
On these hot summer days to come, many other women will find their way to Calvary. They will face their addiction, begin healing from their trauma, get medical treatment, and find a job. And, like Lisa, every five days one of them will move to her own home.