My husband always jokes with me that I lived a sheltered life growing up. It’s true—I never saw a homeless person in my hometown of Muskogee, Oklahoma, and our Salvation Army was a thrift store, not a shelter. But I’d always considered us a “poor” family. I grew up using food stamps, usually only got one Christmas present, and I knew what it was like to do without utilities while my dear mother waited for her next check so we could have them turned back on. So I was completely thrown off when the family I have now ended up living in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the local Salvation Army shelter, and later at the Tulsa Day Center for the homeless. It was a whole new world for me. One that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
The circumstances that occurred for my family of five—three boys, myself, and my husband—to end up with no home for almost three years were right out of a reality show. We lived in low-income housing in North Tulsa. My husband, a plumber by trade, had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. He couldn’t work anymore, but was denied disability for almost four years.
One night, after five years of living in our home, a group of strangers broke in, kicking the door in and throwing bricks into the windows. They assaulted my husband, hitting him in the head with a tire tool, and sprayed me with mace. My son, 17 at the time, came to defend his parents, and the strangers attacked him. My son had a knife for protection, and sadly one of his attackers was injured fatally. The police came, investigated, shook his hand and told him good job. We were evicted shortly thereafter for having the police at our home. I was the one that called them…
We were on the streets with nowhere to go, but we finally have an apartment again and have been living here for the past eight months. Thank God.