Memorial Day is a day to remember and honor those men and women who lost their lives serving this country. Memorial Day is also a day to step away from our busy schedules to spend quality time with our families. When you’re enjoying time with your family this weekend, please take a moment to think about those families who are not so fortunate.
Families and Homelessness
It is a sad fact that the number of homeless families is on the rise. Families can become homeless for a variety of reasons. Some families consist of a mother and her children who are escaping domestic abuse situations. Others are homeless due to loss of income from a death in the family or illness.
However, the recent economic downturn and resulting abysmal job and market and rash of home foreclosures has forced many formerly middle-class families out onto the streets. A recent article follows the plight of one now-homeless family in Petaluma, California. The article starts:
“Two years ago, the McMahon family had a home, cars and pets. Today they are living at a homeless shelter and wondering just where things went wrong.”
Marshall McMahon says that one of his greatest regrets is not being able to give his kids everything they need; not being able to give them the happy childhood that he had.
The article continues to talk about the heartbreaking realities the McMahon family has to face daily, such as lack of privacy and the realities of staying in a transitional shelter. They are separated from their oldest child, who is staying with a friend until things take a turn for the better.
The McMahon children are still able to go to their old school, but many homeless children are not so lucky, which further interrupts their lives.
Families in Crisis
Homelessness causes great strain for families. Many shelters don’t allow families to sleep together in the same room, breaking them up at a time when they need each other the most. Some families end up staying in low-cost motels, or even in tents or in cars. Parents feel guilty, and fear that they won’t be able to care for their children. They may not even know where their next meal will come from. Often, the guilt and fear create tension that echoes through the whole family.
Children may be sent away to live with relatives. Other families may even have their children taken away by social services. The National Center on Family Homelessness puts the separation rate of children and their families at 1 in 5 homeless children.
Homelessness is a huge disruption in the lives of children. Many find themselves witnessing and experiencing violence. The lack of stability and constant tension creates social and emotional problems for children as well. Homeless children are more likely to have delayed development and learning disabilities than children with a stable home.
Helping Families in Need
At Joy Junction, we help families in need by providing them with food and shelter as well as personal items such as clothing, personal hygiene kits, and diapers and formula for our youngest guests. We also take food to homeless families living in motels and on the streets with our Lifeline of Hope food truck. And we never spilt families up!
Please keep these families in your thoughts and prayers as you enjoy your family this Memorial Day weekend. Homeless families need your help, and we need your help and support to continue providing for these families facing such difficulties. Please consider volunteering your time and donating to Joy Junction to help these families in need.