When the reality of being homeless hit I was terrified. Then it was numbing. It frighten the crap out of me.
The reality that I was homeless hit about 8:30 p.m. at night. Moreover, I was in an area of Milton, Florida that I was unfamiliar with.. Just walking down the road towards the Wal Mart in Pace, FL. I did not own or have a car at the time. Not even sure how long the walk was. All I can tell you is it was very long. However, I was not thinking about the distance. Just focused on getting to a familiar area one-step at a time. With many stops to rest between my location and the store
When I arrived at the Wal Mart, it was around 3:30 am. In addition, darkness had set in. This being my first experience of homelessness in town where I knew very few people. Therefore, my college education told me that I would be safer inside store just off Highway 90 in Pace. Therefore, I walked inside the major retailer. I looked around for hours dreaming of the things I purchase for my new home. Walking around the retailer, I was exhausted after my super long walk.
I still cannot tell you how far I walked that night. All I can say is that Wal Mart was a long walk. That was by far the longest walk I had done ever. So feeling tried I sat on the bench in front of the checkouts of that Wal Mart.
Looking At Local Apartment:
My plan when daylight came was to check on an apartment within walking distance of the Wal Mart. I had been told that this apartment was income based. As I collect, a small disability check from the government.
Therefore, I needed a place that fit my budget. Later that morning I walked to the apartment complex that was near by the Wal Mart. Spoke with the apartment manager. It turned out that the said apartment was not income based at all. Therefore, I made my way back to the store I spent the early morning Walking in the morning heat of Florida.
It was disappointing to learn the apartments were not income based. I had hoped to call that place home. But it was not income restricted. As I love the beach and Florida. I have wanted to live in the Sunshine since I was a second-grader. However, my life there was short-lived due to to do an abusive life partner who was very controlling and told lies. Love the access to the beach year around. Now God has me taken away from Florida. He must have a better life plan for me.
Currently I am back in my second favorite state. However, it is quickly become my favorite living place. As I now have a place to call my home.
Lori And The Wal Mart Experience:
With a street survival guide with Florida resources in my left hand, I walk through the front doors of the Pace Wal-Mart store. For the second time that frightening day. In a panic, not know what I was going to do in terms of finding permanent stable housing in Florida. As I moved forward in my life. Still married but without a wife in my future.
Not having an active cell phone that made or received calls, I walked up to the customer services desk, where I met Lori, a Wal-Mart employee working behind the counter. Asked her if I could use the telephone.
My intention was to make a few calls to find a place I might be able to stay. I explained to Lori I was homeless and needed to find a place to stay at least temporarily. I was shaking so bad I could not even dial the telephone to make said calls. I believe it was the fear of not knowing what was going to happen. In addition, the feeling of having nowhere to go. Alternatively, even call home any more. The unknown future.
After about two or three calls Lori told me she was going to help me transportation. She then took my street survival guide and told me to go sit on the bench next to the customer service desk. Not knowing what to say, just thank you I did as she requested and she started making calls dialing numbers from the survival guide. Making calls in between helping customers.
After 20 or 30 minutes, Lori stated she was not having no success reaching any of places. Then she went on her break as I sat on the bench next to customer services. When Lori had returned from her break, she had a bottle of water for me.
In addition, boy was I thirsty. The water was cold and it tasted good going down. At that point, I could not remember the last time I ate or drank anything. After handing me the water, Lori said she was going to keep trying to find someone that could help me via the telephone. She talked to a few people but kept getting redirect to another organization. So far with no luck finding help for me. She finally told there were no shelters in Milton. That the nearest shelters where in Pensacola. Therefore, plan B was to get to Pensacola. It was about 26 miles away from Milton.
The Nice Christian Lady:
It was explained, to me that the Waterfront Rescue Mission might be able to help me. However, this place was in Pensacola. A city I had not gone too much. Therefore, I continued to sit on that bench as Lori continued to make calls on my behalf. After being in the store from about 9:3 am, Lori and I met a nice Christian woman who told Lori and I she could help me. However, she had some shopping to do first. Then she said she would take me wherever I needed or wanted to go. Therefore, I sat there for about 45 minutes to an hour on the bench. The woman returned stating she was ready to go.
The woman and I spoke for a few minutes. Then agreed she would take me to meet her friend John at Woodbine Church in Pace. Both John and the woman where members of Woodbine. Therefore, off we went to the church. As we were walking to the woman’s car, she asked me when the last time I had any food was. I told her I had not eaten in three days. She stated she would buy me lunch on the way to her church. I told her she did not have to do that. Nevertheless, she did any way. One the way to the church we did a Whataburger stop in Pace. One of my favorite place to eat. I got the number 5 that day.
So when went got to her church I met her friend John. Then a few of the women who work at the church. The issue told to John. He had one of the church employees call Waterfront. Then I was told that Waterfront had a bed waiting.. John then offered to drive me to Pensacola.
John, the Christian woman and I went outside to John’s truck at this point.
Off To Pensacola:
John and I got in his truck as I said good-bye to the woman and thanked her for her help. Off to Pensacola and Waterfront John and I went. At this point, I had only herd of Waterfront via the local news. I had no idea what to expect from this place. However, was glad that someone wanted to help me. As I felt like no one really cared about me at all.
When we arrived at Waterfront John spoke to a man about my situation. Then John gave me his business card and said these people would help me. However, if there was anything I needed he could help with to call him. Then I met with a Waterfront volunteer and he helped me fill out some paperwork.
Then the volunteer said I would need to meet with the resource center manager. Therefore, I waited to meet with this person. Still fearful of what was going to happen. Moreover, how they were going to help me because I had no money. As I know, money makes the world go around. There no such thing as a free ride in life.
However, I met with the Waterfront representative knowing I could not pay for food or lodging.
The Waterfront Blessings:
I net with Chaplin John who was the man the church spoke with earlier that day. The Chaplin asked me my story. I explained what happened. That I was homeless and had nowhere to stay. After our talk, he took my picture for a Florida homeless id. Then got me checked into the mission for the night. That night I got all that I needed.
Trust in God and you too can break the cycle of homelessness.