“This is my new friend “Turtle.” She is homeless in Fort Lauderdale. I was driving by the downtown Publix and as soon as I made eye contact with her, I knew I had to stop.
So I offered to buy her lunch. She didn’t feel comfortable coming inside publix with me because she has all her stuff, so I offered her a sandwich and she told me she would take whatever I was willing to give as she wasn’t picky. So I grabbed her a Sammy, some healthy-ish snacks, water and a Gatorade. When I went back to the bus stop I asked her to tell me her story.
I sat with her for 45 minutes and just listened to her talk, I think she appreciated having someone to talk to. She told me about all her ventures and how she ended up here. She told me that she doesn’t want to be homeless. She misses working, paying rent, and just “having a normal life.” She has tried to get jobs, but has continuously been told she is over qualified for the positions she is applying for. She most recently applied at “the royal pig” on las olas, spoke with the owner who again told her she was over qualified and that they had nothing open anyway. She asked if they had a broom and dust pan and offered to just walk around all day sweeping up by tables and throughout the restaurant, only requesting minimum wage. He said “you would do that?” and she replied “I would do anything at this point”.
This was one of the best conversations I’ve had in a while. Turtle had so much spirit and a big smile on her face despite her situation. I wish I could have done more than get her food and give her ten dollars but she was grateful anyway. She told me “I’m not one of those people who is going to take your money and spend it on beer or drugs. I’m just so tired. And I just want to be able to stay in a motel and take a shower.” She is one of the kindest souls I’ve ever met and I am so glad that I stopped and got to chat with her.
I asked if I could take her picture and share her story. She offered to pose for me! She even made up a nickname for me “swagalicious” lol
The point is: there is so much stigma around the homeless. People assume they are homeless because they are lazy and their homelessness is a choice. It may be for some people, but it wasn’t for her. Sure, some poor decisions led her here, but she’s a smart, kind, and funny woman who is doing her best to rehabilitate herself and live normally again. I hope you think of her next time you see a homeless person because each of them has a story.”