“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
– Benjamin Franklin
I didn’t think I’d fall asleep. I tried to lie perfectly still and relax my hands. I started counting as I breathed. I was hyperaware of the tightness in my chest. Breathe, count. Breathe, count. Nick took my hand. Loose hands. Breathe, count. Breathe, count.
I woke up with a start. The clock said 4:57 am. My chest was immediately tight again. I need sleep. How will I do everything I need to do today without sleep? I thought of the calendar in the garage. I’d carefully mapped out the next two weeks hour-by-hour. It didn’t seem possible. There weren’t enough hours in the day. There wasn’t enough money in the bank. My chest squeezed my heart even tighter. Go back to sleep. Breathe, count. Breathe, count.
We were out of socks. The one thing people need all the time is socks. We were out.
There were no women’s underwear, and we only had men’s underwear in a 2XL and 3XL. People need clean underwear.
We were out of milk. No milk for coffee.
No athlete’s foot powder, no reading glasses.
I made a mental note every time someone asked me for something we didn’t have. Today, I’d brought combs, baby wipes, and deodorant because that’s what we were out of last time.
A woman I’d never seen before said, “I need to wash my underwear. Do you have any soap I can use for that?” The male volunteer said we had shampoo or bar soap. She turned to me, “I’ll ask the other woman. She’ll know. Should I use shampoo or soap to wash my underwear?” I told her I’d use shampoo if it were me.
If it were me. Homeless. Simply in need of a clean pair of underwear.
I glanced around the room. So many stories here. It could be me.
Nick flipped through the book with storage bin assignments. A man stood waiting, hoping that one of the 200 Rubbermaid bins might have been vacated in the last month. I said, “I doubt there’s one available mid-month. I’d check back every day during the first week of September.”
He looked at me. “I don’t know what to do. I’m hungry. Do you know anywhere that’s serving food today?”
There was something about his eyes.
“Haywood Street Congregation serves dinner on Sundays. I think it starts at 4:30 pm, but ask up at the front desk to be sure. Do you know where that is? It’s just around the corner.”
We got home and let the dog out. I walked in the bedroom and stepped over the piles of clean clothes that I never get around to putting in drawers.
The number of pairs of clean underwear in those piles was astounding.
How lucky I am.
I keep an Amazon Wish List for AHOPE at http://a.co/8EeNEWf. If you mail items through Amazon, please be sure the mailing address is set to the Wish List (in Asheville) and not your default mailing address. There is a constant need for socks and underwear. White tube socks work best. You can also drop donations off at AHOPE, which is located at 19 N. Ann St, Asheville, NC 28801. They are open Mon/Tues/Thurs/Fri from 7:00 am-Noon, Wed from 7:00 am-10:30 am, and Sat/Sun from 8:00 am-Noon. If you live out of town and would like to donate to a shelter near you, go to http://www.homelessshelterdirectory.org/ to find one. I also urge you to find churches or rescue missions in your area that have clothing closets or soup kitchens if you’d like to help.