Sunday, December 19, 2010


Mo is an absolute sweetheart. She's bubbly, chatty, well-spoken - and she was freezing when I asked to take her photo. My apologies. I don't think you can see much more than her nose in this photo but she is just a joy to spend time with!

Mo's story: She was married to a physically abusive man and had a solid job for seven years with the US Postal Department. Things became bad enough at home that she escaped to a domestic violence shelter. She called her employer and asked for a leave of absence but was refused. Fearing for her safety, she called in to work day after day and was fired for nonattendance. After a month in the domestic violence house, she was released and sent on her way with no job and no family to fall back on for help. As Mo says, in order to qualify for so many of the programs that could help her, she would either have to be a drug or alcohol addict or mentally unstable. She is neither of these things and so she gets no help.

Recently, she was placed into a government housing project. When I asked her if she was okay there, her reply was, "Look, E. I've got a roof over my head and walls to mostly block the wind (her window is cracked so ice gets inside). Yeah, the heater went out but I'm out of the wind and that'll work for a start." Today, I brought Mo a blanket and a pillow because she had neither when she moved in. She has no stove but she has a small microwave. A woman offered to give dishes to help set up her new home and, excited to have a few new things, Mo happily went with the woman to gather some plates, silverware, etc. When she arrived at the woman's condo in River North, she was given plastic storage containers from restaurant doggie bags and a few used plastic forks. Mo said, "E, I didn't know what to do! I didn't want to appear ungrateful but I just wanted to cry. I mean, I know I need stuff and I should just be thankful for anything anyone's willing to give me but in that moment, I felt less than human. I just wanted to cry."

And I wanted to cry for her. I don't understand why someone would think it's okay to give their throwaway containers to someone and expect them to act like they'd been given a set of Lenox china.

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