"I didn't come here without money in my pocket. I have a payment plan worked out. I'm in this mess because I was hard-headed and not being responsible."
Well. Never has a new guest introduced herself to me that way.
Sheila just didn't pay her sewer bill. Like so many of her guests, she didn't understand it, so she ignored it. "I'll never ignore a bill again."
She and her 4 teenage kids didn't have water until today. Sheila had $160 "in my pocket," but it would take a total of $263.23 to get the water flowing again. Of course we filled that gap.
But listen. There's so much to learn.
Sheila was raised in the Tubman housing community. As an adult, she became president of the residents' association. "Tubman was security nest. We all knew each other, each others' kids. We watched out for each other."
When Tubman was demolished, Sheila and her kids received a Section 8 voucher. That's how they were able to move into the house where they've lived for 5 years.
She doesn't much know her neighbors, though, and she misses the "apartment-style life." Sheila says she's a little afraid of the neighborhood, and with good reason.
Sheila was a victim of violence as a teenager. She entered the group home punitive system before she was 18. Now, one of her kids is one of those horror stories you've read about in the newspaper.
There's much to learn about generational poverty, about the violence that those living in poverty experience, about the assets of community.
Standing ovation to Sheila, a mother doing the best she can - against all odds - to break that generational cycle.