Dinner on a Frisbee: A homeless Richmond mom’s story

Editor’s note: I received an email from a Richmond mom who wanted to share “an article she had written.” Upon reading it, I was speechless. Michelle Garcia is that mom, and her matter-of-fact post about how she found herself homeless is below.

I want to thank my daughter for the title of this post.  As she was eating dinner, she looked down and asked “Mom is this a plate or a Frisbee?”  At this point all I can do is laugh and say, “Honey it’s both.”  And so our story begins.

My life has been a strange course of events. I lost my first daughter during pregnancy. After three long tough pregnancies, my family was finally complete with two daughters and a son. What more could I ask for? I was a stay at home Mom with three beautiful healthy children. Happiness was mine, but it was determined to be short lived.

As times grew tighter and work became scarce, my husband grew more and more stressed. Finally, he snapped and everything fell apart.  I had to leave my home with only my children, one truck and some clothes. My family was devastated, and is now homeless.  

As I write this I think back to a vacation we took several years ago. I was walking throughMexico Citywhen a small child approached me trying to sell candy; I turned and noticed the whole family sitting on a blanket on the sidewalk. I remember thinking about poverty and families, and how quickly it seemed to happen there.  Now, all of a sudden, I have slipped from a beautiful four bedroom house to residing with my three children in one room at an emergency shelter.  

Here is what I have learned.  An emergency shelter is the first step for a homeless family.  The government provides funds for these non-profits and individuals or families can reside with them for 3 months. During your stay, you either apply to move into a transitional home or find your own housing solution. Neither of these is possible for a currently unemployed housewife with three small children. The circle goes round and round every day, I am homeless due to unemployment, but unable to find a job due to homelessness. With no income you don’t qualify for most current housing programs.

My friends have disappeared one by one and in groups. Run from the homeless woman as fast as you can. I am not sure what about me that has become so scary, it seems that everyone knows they live on the edge, and they could be a paycheck or an argument away from where I am right now. 

How much can I to endure? I ask this question a lot. I remind myself often to count my blessings. I have had the opportunity to meet some pretty amazing people who are facing the same hardships that we are.  I have my kids, we are healthy, and we currently have a roof over our head.  It may not be the one we want but it is something, and my daughter says; wow we have a number on our door now Mom.   

I believe that everything happens for a reason.   I feel my reason for being here is to find a way to make this better for the next victim of domestic violence that finds herself looking for a roof and a little support. There needs to be more awareness of the breakdowns in this system. Not every situation is the same, but anyone can end up here. I was turned away from a transitional home because they felt I needed too much help and would be there for too long.  I don’t fit the mold for someone living in a shelter, but what is the mold?  We are all different and come here due to circumstances beyond our control.   

I just know that I am going to make a better life for my children. And no matter where we go from here, we have each other, and of course, our dinner on the Frisbee.

Footnote: We’re thrilled to say that we are paying Michelle for this post. Oh, and we’re rooting for she and her kids, too.

Update–less than twenty-four hours after posting this story, we’re receiving tons of inquiries on how to help Michelle and her family. Michelle does have a Paypal account if you’d like to make a direct donation: michelledgarcia@hotmail.com. We’ll keep you posted on her family’s journey, and thank you in advance for your generosity.

15 COMMENTS

  1. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help! Not sure where she lives or needs to live but there are some great income based housing in Williamsburg and some jobs that are always available where I work.

    • Thank you for asking. We’re putting our heads together now. I’m thinking we can create a Paypal account so that folks could donate online and she would have direct access to the funds–what do you think of this idea?

    • in response to your kind offer to help Michelle: she does have a Paypal account at michelledgarcia@hotmail.com mailto:michelledgarcia@hotmail.com . If you’d rather send her something, please email me at kate@richmondmom.com mailto:kate@richmondmom.com and I’ll reply with her physical address–although she may not be there longer than two weeks based on a note she just sent me. Thanks again.

  2. What a strong Mom! And strong, beautiful children that seem to have her un-defeated, "together we will make it better" attitude. Certainly she has writing skills that can touch her readers, and maybe this, her first paid article, could be the beginning of a source of income for her.

  3. Michelle, thank you for sharing your story, and for shining a spotlight on the weaknesses of our society's ability to assist families in your situation. You have a real gift with words and to be able to share it so eloquently during a difficult time is a real testimony to your strength. I'll be praying for you, that a new door opens for you leading to a new life of stability and possibility.

    • Thank you so very much–I know Michelle and her family will greatly appreciate it! She has told me that even little things like soap and shampoo are so needed, not only by her family but others at the shelter. Know it’ll be put to good use. Hugs for your generosity :-)

  4. I am sorry to read about another family being homeless especially with children. As I am writing this, I have been homeless for a little over a month now. My husband is working full-time which he is taking a chunk of his weekly check to pay for us to stay in a hotel with three children. Since becoming homeless, I didn't realize that there are so many families that have become homeless due to low or no household income. I have been looking for full-time employment for 5 months now. Michelle, if you are reading this, be strong. I am wishing you and your children the very best.

    • Thank you so much for sharing this–so sorry you are in this situation. I am so very glad you have a roof over your head and will pray that you get a more permanent one for yourselves very soon :-) If you have any advice for folks in this situation, please share them!

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