Yesterday, we said Good-bye to Daytona Beach. There was no sorrow or regret, we were excited to leave the dump behind. We realized in the 10 months we were there, that there was just no way we could sustain ourselves or get ahead. There are little jobs that pay well or that are full-time, it’s trashy, run down, and just too much of a party town. People come there to party, trash the place, and leave. Even though we knew we would be homeless and living in a truck, we were at peace. No more sleepless nights being kept up with neighbors fighting and partying, no more drama, no more run down and roach infested apartment with a slumlord running the place. I hid a letter in the home, warning the next tenant of the hell they may face there and a list of code violations and evidence we have just in case the “landlord” found it.
Before I continue my blog post, I just want to point out that we really did try and make it in Volusia County. Before we left, we called my husband’s VA clinic social worker for his primary care team. I was told there was just no help for us in the county. HUD Vash for veterans has no vouchers for housing and, even if they did, we would need money for rent and electric deposits. I would also have to have a job or my husband would have to have his Pension or SSDI coming in. There was just no funding available to help and she suggested we try and start over in another county. Jobs are hard to come by in Daytona and, if you find one, they barely cover your rent. The jobs I can do that pay well require experience or education I do not have. I have a friend living in the area that can attest to the struggle as well. She and I have the same issues of struggle. She has children and still can’t get the help to fully get them in their feet. You can pay anyone’s rent and utilities, but if they can’t find sustainable employment, the cycle will just repeat as it did with us. I also ran into the issue of losing jobs because of all my husband’s medical appointments he goes to and my bad back (which is on the mend so far). Lastly, If I could of just had help relocating to a better apartment, I could have kept my $12 work at home job and we wouldn’t be homeless. However, that didn’t happen and I lost my job (see I’m Not Scared). Even though we borrowed what money my father-in-law could afford to send, it just wasn’t enough for the move. The place we found could not accommodate internet and phone I would have needed for my job without a huge extra charge to put it in.
We decided to rent small storage unit online a few days before. Once we got to the storage place, the unit was a bit too short for us and the other 5X5 units that were taller were all rented out. We couldn’t afford a bigger unit and explained we were on a VERY tight budget. The store manager told us not to worry, they would find us something nearby at another store. As the she called other stores to find accommodation, a cancellation came through for us. It was the same size and price, but taller to allow us to stack our belongings. They even had a free lock someone left so we wouldn’t have to spend an extra $20.
We got the storage unit rented until May and, as we were driving to our unit, my husband spotted a Red-Tailed Hawk. He told me that every time he sees that, good things happen. I am not big on superstition, but I hoped he was right. I said a little prayer right then and asked God to protect us and watch over us on this new journey we were about to embark on.
After unloading our things, we had a large breakfast to get us through the day. We sat at a well-known breakfast place and discussed our plans on going to the VA once we got where we were going. The older couple next to us overheard us talking and asked my husband if he had served. He said, yes and they got right to exchanging service stories. Before we left, the older gentlemen slipped us $20 and told us our breakfast was on him. I thanked him and wished him a blessed day. It was very unexpected, but a blessing all the same.
I tried to nap the 1 hour trip, but was too nervous to sleep. On the way there, I got an email to meet with someone about a $9 hour job I had applied to the day before. She wanted to meet with me by 4pm that day. I wasn’t sure if we would be able to meet by 4, so I called to arrange to meet that Monday. I explained we were just moving that day and I did not want to miss the chance to meet her for this job. She scheduled me for Monday morning and we got back to focusing on our journey.
When we reached our destination, we hit up a local store to get a water bottle and some meal replacement bars to eat. I knew our first priority was to make sure we stayed hydrated and well nourished while homeless. As a woman, I also worried about how I would use a bathroom while living in a truck and the fact that mother nature was due to give me a visit in a few days. I’m not trying to be gross or rude, that’s just a small fact of life I really didn’t want to deal with while being homeless. Men can stand to relieve themselves, but women look more obvious. I also didn’t want to look like a murder scene if I couldn’t change my unmentionables in time. Yes, I was more worried about that then sleeping in a truck.
Before we went to the local box store, I surprised my husband by taking us on a little detour. It was before 4pm and I wanted to get that job! The manager of the hotel was surprised to see me so soon. I apologized for looking so bad, but that I had been moving all day and didn’t want to miss the job opportunity. She and the general manager were impressed by my enthusiasm and I was offered the job on the spot, pending a drug and background check on Monday. God answered my first prayer of a job, now we just needed a place to live. My husband refereed back to the hawk and I told him it could have been God sending us a sign.
When we were were finished shopping for staple foods and hydration, we made a few calls to veteran organizations. The first priority was to get my husband back on track with his mental health, brain injury, and seizure care right away. We also needed to get his pension pushed through since we were now living in a truck. We got set up with a service officer to help my husband get a smooth transition to a new VA for medical and mental health treatment and then asked here we could safely park the truck to stay the night. We were told to stay in the Wal-Mart parking lot to be safe, that they would try and get us help soon, but that we might have to spend a few nights in the Wal-Mart parking lot.
Before camping at Wal-Mart, we decided to have at a little fun exploring the town. We figured we should learn about the area, take a few pictures, and get our minds off being homeless for a minute. I picked the “haunted” downtown area as our adventure start. As we were driving to the downtown area, I got a call from the veteran organization informing us that they had a hotel for us to stay in and to get there right away. They said to check in and they would meet with us over the weekend to get everything started for housing while waiting on my paychecks to start coming in. I thanked the man over and over again through tears of joy. When I hung up, my husband said his heart was pounding so hard, he was so excited and relieved at the same time. We scrapped our “haunted” adventure tour and headed to the hotel to check in. This was prayer number two partially answered. We have a place out of the elements to lay our head and be safe for now. I have faith that the prayer will be answered fully once we meet with the case worker this weekend.
When checking into our room, the manager informed us that our door lock was being replaced. The maintenance man told us to go ahead and unpack our truck as he would be finished shortly. While inside the room, I heard my husband shut his door and a loud crash of glass follow. I ran out to my husband just leaning over his closed truck door in defeat. The driver’s side window of his old 1982 Chevy C10 shattered due to the rubber housing being rotten off and gone. The glass had hit the metal of the door frame that was no longer being protected by the rubber weatherstripping and shattered into a million tiny pieces. The maintenance man felt so bad for us and wondered why we could laugh about it. Yes, both of us where just laughing by this point. We told him, ‘If you had any clue what we’ve gone through, you’d laugh too. It’s all you can do.’ He took a look at our car and told us he used to work on cars. He told us of a junk yard to get a new window for $35 and offered to put it in for us. He also took a look at our alternator belt that constantly squealed and showed us it was not tight enough, nor was it lubricated enough. He offered to fix this as well and, when he was done, it now charges right up and has no squealing. The charge also stopped dropping when the lights are on. This was prayer number three answered. We are still waiting to fix the window, but my husband is getting the window as I type this.
Also, while typing this, the hotel manager knocked at the door to tell us we had to check out as we were only paid for one night. This was news to me because we were told the veteran’s organization paid for the weekend. The veteran organization case worker, the same one who paid for the weekend, was to meet with us by Sunday to get a housing plan started. After speaking with the case worker, it turns out, we WERE paid for the weekend and the caseworker will be here this afternoon to fix everything and speak to us about our housing.
Stay tuned, I will have more to write as our journey continues. God has already answered several prayers and kept us safe. Was the Red-Tailed Hawk a sign, send from God that he was sending good things our way? Who knows? I did a little Google search and found they are very important to Native Americans. They regarded Hawks as a Messenger, Visionary, and Protector. They bring Perspective, Focus, Priorities, Inner Visions, and Wisdom. I do know that God sends messengers to us in many forms. To my husband, the red-tailed hawk has always shown up whenever something good was about to happen. Maybe God used the bird to reassure him that he was there and good things were about to happen. My husband, in turn, shared that with me and I became aware that God was around us and we would be alright. Bottom line: we are alright. I am starting a job soon, we have food, a working vehicle, and a place to sleep that is safe and free from the outside elements. We are also healthy, clean, well rested, and at peace for once in a very long while. We both slept like a log and woke up refreshed and ready to take on the world (or at least this small town). We haven’t been able to feel this good in months and I owe it all to God.There are many people in this world who are not even able to have clean water to drink or food to eat and my heart breaks for them.
Luke 12:22-24 English Standard Version (ESV)
22 And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!