I met up today with a woman who is doing outreach for Storehouse, a local non-profit food bank that I actually utilized upon moving to Albuquerque about 6 years ago. The Storehouse changed my life. Let me explain why.
When I moved to Albuquerque over 6 years ago, I had only $20 to my name (after paying my deposit and first month’s rent on a dorm situation near UNM.) Everything I owned was in the back of my $300 1991 rusty old Ford Ranger. When I first moved in on that snowy New Years’ Day, 2011, I had nearly nothing.. just the random stuff that I had trekked with me from my 9 month stint in L.A., all the way here. So I sat in my room for a few nights, starving, barely able to move or think about what my next steps were. Albuquerque had always been my ‘option’ in case L.A. didn’t work out. (And L.A. didn’t work out, it was far too expensive and crowded, and I found I preferred the gentle touch of a smaller town to that of a bigger one. Plus, L.A. is freaking expensive! If you don’t make $100,000, it’s tough to live.) So there I was, sitting in my little tiny dorm room, nearly starving…
That is, until I met my neighbors. I lived in this two story old church that had been converted into 12 different ‘rooms’ (almost like a dorm) and what I realized was that, there were many junkies, users and general nobodies living there. For a writer and artist like myself, this was exactly where I wanted to be… in a place full of real people with real problems and real stories to tell. In a matter of 24 hours there, I had already been befriended by Dan, this many who lived across from me who had pot smoke wafting from his door at all hours of the night. He barely even slept, and while staunchly Republican, he had a soft spot for allowing homeless men into his bed from time to time. Well, I wasn’t about to become one of his cuddle buddies, but we did become good friends for a short time. A few days after my arrival, Dan had already taught me about hitting up all the casinos in the area for some quick cash. “You can sign up for the Players Club, get $20 worth of casino credit, and hopefully walk away with some money, at least temporarily, to live off of.” I was all over it! We visited 5 casinos and I raised about $200 to live off of. Also, Dan told me about the Storehouse.
The Storehouse is this local non-profit organization that is basically a food pantry for those who are needy and starving. In fact, anyone can sign up, you just have to take your social security card and ID, and you’re good to go. Going to Storehouse totally changed my then current situation into a positive. After receiving the free monthly handout of food, I was able to focus on my job search and feel better about myself. After a few weeks, I had already landed a job, and that one time when I was nearly homeless and starving had given me something to be hopeful for, something to not have to worry about so I could focus on something else, on bettering my life. Having food gave me confidence that things would work out alright. After landing that job, I also got back into college after 10+ years, and look where I am now.
So I spoke with this woman from Storehouse today and told her my story. My story about a boy who came to town who had nothing, and now is 2 years away from having his Masters in Social Work, and who wants to return the favor, and help others.