Homeless Issue #76
Lisa—Mother of Two
This mother of two I first met about 8 or 9 years ago behind K-mart when I first began the Job’s Shelters of the Sierra ministry. Lisa was sort of the “mother hen” of one of about four communities of homeless people living in the Manzanita behind K-Mart. After we got to know each other, Lisa told me her “story.” She told me this, and I now relay it onto you. Born, raised, nurtured in El Dorado County. She was married; they had a home, her husband was a pile-driving technician for a bridge construction company (a well-paying job). She had two teenage boys who were in school, and Lisa was a homemaker. One morning the oldest boy went outside and witnessed his father dangling from a tree in a suicide attempt. The oldest son, who was present while Lisa was telling me this, made the comment, “he couldn’t even do that right.” Lisa heard her son yell, came out of the house, cut the rope, and her husband fell to the ground. An ambulance was called, but he died before getting to the hospital. There was some money in the house, and she had her two sons lived off of it; but shortly the bills came, the creditors came, and they lost everything they had. As it turned out, her husband, although he made very good money, had gambled it all away. Eventually everything they owned was taken as security for money to pay the gambling debts. Everything is gone! Lisa is forced to the streets as she has no marketable skills. Her oldest son follows in her footsteps. Her younger son continues going to high school, “couch surfing” until he graduates. The younger son joins the Army. I have met him; he got married in the last year or two. Lisa and her older son continue on the streets and are reduced to do whatever she needs to do for survival. She did advance to a job with a non-profit here in El Dorado County, but pretty soon lost that job for multiple reasons. During that time she had a place for her and her older son to stay, and she even acquired an automobile; but through her actions she lost it all. Just in the last few weeks at age 48 Lisa died of liver failure due to probable substance abuse. This story plays out many times in El Dorado County and in every county in the United States.
Lisa and her older son hated and condemned banks for taking away everything they had. Lisa indicated to me at one time that she had checks (thinking she had money). Even though Lisa was smart, I felt she didn’t have the concept that you need money in the bank to write checks or make withdrawals. She lacked “living” skills that many of us take for granted. She had to learn new skills.
What does our El Dorado County do for their citizens who just can’t cope?
Perks Court, the United Outreach location that houses a total of 6 persons, has been abandoned by United Outreach. The County is showing an interest in maintaining that facility. So they can say, “El Dorado cares for the homeless in their County.”All of 6 people! Anyway, when United Outreach abandoned the property they commenced disposing of all the furniture, etc. The JSS crew and I were there, 5 years ago and built, dug sewer lines, constructed book shelves, (my wife painted the bookshelves and stocked them with books), furniture was donated to the house, not to United Outreach, and my crew and I put in electricity. Now it sits empty. I understand that the county wants someone to take over what Untied Outreach abandoned, so the County can say they take care of the homeless in El Dorado County. All 6 of them.
WHAT A WASTE of County property and resources. Three buildings but will allow only 6 people. Then, they make it impossible for any non-profit to operate it. And most importantly, the non-profit would be expected to operate at no cost to the county. That is outrageous!
Those who live in this County, and pay taxes, and contribute now, better watch out if tragedy hits and they become one of those who have the very least: The Homeless.
A memorial service will be held for Lisa Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014 at Cold Springs Community Church.