|Coat: Vince Camuto/Nordsroms, Shirt: Old Navy, Pants: Banana Republic, Shoes: Jessica Simpson, Necklace: Lotus, Belt: F21|
I know this is a Personal Style Blog/Diary, but I have zero desire to talk about clothes today.
Do you ever feel like God, or the Universe is trying to tell you something? That you can't shake something you heard, and that just maybe you were told it for a reason? Like, maybe you weren't supposed to forget about it and go on your merry way? I have felt that way lately...
Here's the deal. I go to the same gas station to get my morning coffee on my way into work (about 2-3 times a week). I say "Good Morning" to all the regulars and the people who work there. But, I'm in there for less than 3 minutes, so pleasantries are all that are normally exchanged. "Hi... How are you?" Small talk about the weather, etc. Every time I go in there the same woman in "manning" the coffee station. She would always comment on how high my heels are, or a necklace I was wearing. We would laugh and talk a bit, and then she would always say, "Okay, you have a great day, Honey. I'll see ya soon!". Her name is Paula. She has bright blonde hair, always has her "face" on, and bright pink lipstick perfectly in place. She is SO happy. Every.Single.Morning. Sweet, and friendly, and vibrant. I look forward to seeing her.
A few weeks ago I noticed that she wasn't there, and I didn't see her for a few days after that. I just figured she had been sick with a cold like everyone else, so I didn't think much of it. Then, the next week, when I did see her, it was like looking at a completely different person. She walked around the coffee station really slowly, was REALLY quiet, had puffy, just-been crying eyes (I know the look because mine swell like a prize fighter's when I've been crying), and wasn't wearing a stitch of makeup. I recognized her, but she looked like a shell of the woman that I have talked to every other day for the last year (plus).
So, I asked her what was wrong, and then it all came out.
Here is the gist if it...
She is a single mom of 2 teenage boys. One is away at Military School and the other is in High School (and she proudly told me that he had just made the baseball team). They rent a (very cheap) apartment in rural South Carolina. Paula started to feel sick ALL OF THE TIME and didn't know why. Then she ended up in the hospital 3 times with respiratory emergencies... she had gone into anaphylactic shock. She could have died.
Well, come to find out, their apartment was infested with black mold. It was everywhere. She said that she noticed it and that she (and other tenets of the building) told the landlord, but that he ignored it. They did not have the money to go anywhere else, and when they threatened leaving, he said he'd keep their deposit, not give them a reference to another landlord because they broke their lease, and that if they just stopped paying rent, that would cripple their credit. She felt trapped. She had NO money to move, couldn't stay, and was concerned for the health and welfare of her son. On top of that, she HAD to work. I'm sure you can imagine that most gas stations don't give you paid time off, medical benefits, or much flexibility when it comes to sick days. If you are not there, you are not getting paid. On top of all of this... a sewer line busted under the building and there was raw sewage coming out of the drains. No water. Just raw sewage. Everyone was finally forced by the Health Department to move out.
She and her son are renting anther house now, but it had been vacant for 10 years before she moved in. So... the appliances are shot, it is old, cold, and one of the walls is so thin you could put your fist through it. On top of that... they have NOTHING but the clothes that were on their backs. EVERYTHING else is too infested with black mold to use. They can't even go into their old apartment anymore to retrieve personal belongings without wearing a Haz-Mat suit. They can't be in more than a minute or two even with the approved gear on. They lost ALL of their clothes, furniture, sheets, blankets, pillows, towels, everything. They couldn't take their microwave because the mold was sucked in through the fan of it. Their dishes, if they chose to try to salvage them, would have to be washed a few times in a chemical cocktail. They lost their beds. She has one twin bed now for her son and she is sleeping on an air mattress.
I know that there are COUNTLESS people in need. People who are sick, people who don't have resources, etc. I also know that it is almost impossible to help everyone. BUT, I am a firm believer that just because you can't help everyone, doesn't mean you shouldn't try to help someone. Ya know? I just couldn't stop thinking about Paula. I am going to go through my place and gather up some comforters, extra sheets, dishes, toiletries, etc. and I'm going to do what I can to gather some stuff at the store for her, but I thought... "Duh... you have a blog, and maybe, someone else who reads it would want to help too?" So I am sharing...
You don't have to have to be a lot to give, but if you have $5/10/20, or a gift card you aren't using. If you're at the store and pick up some extra food/towels/washcloths/dishrags/cleaning supplies, have an extra bed frame in storage, or a clean mattress, pots, pans... whatever. Paula and her son need everything and haven't asked for anything. SO... if you want to help, please let me know and we can coordinate something together. You can FB me, Instagram, e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org), call, send me a smoke signal... whatever.
If you read this entire story. Thanks so much. Please spread the word, especially to people who live locally (Charlotte/Fort Mill/Rock Hill) and can help. Please share this post. I know she would truly appreciate any and everything she received.
Paula has unshakable faith... so let's be His hands and feet, shall we?