It was a busy morning at PUM…and loud. Thanks to some road work being done right in front of our little house on Market Street but that didn’t keep our clients away or seem to dampen their spirits. I’m always impressed at how most of our clients manage to maintain sunny dispositions despite their difficult circumstances. There are always lots of smiles on the faces of our clients at PUM but the biggest smile award of the day would have to go to one of our last clients of the morning. Her name is Stacy and she was a new visitor to PUM. Stacy is not one of our typical clients; for one thing, she looks like she should be in a high school chemistry class on a Wednesday morning, not waiting on our doorstep for services. She was even wearing a sweatshirt from a local high school. When I asked her about the mascot on the front, she was more than eager to tell me about it and more. Just like a lot of our clients, what Stacy needed most was a compassionate ear to listen to her story and I was happy to oblige.
Fleeing an abusive parent, Stacy left home a month ago and had been living in her car, like a lot of homeless are forced to do, in a Dominos parking lot. Stacy is what I like to call fun-size, like me, and I can only imagine how lonely and scared she must have been that first night in her car but I guess for her it was better than the alternative.
Fortunately, the folks at Dominos figured out what was going on and instead of looking the other way or calling the police, they got to know Stacy and her situation and the manager offered her a job as a delivery driver. Unfortunately, she had to turn the job down because she her driver’s license had recently been lost or stolen which is so often the case when you are homeless and Stacy didn’t have the money to pay for a replacement. A friend had told her about PUM and she had come this morning filled with hope at the prospect of getting a voucher for an new driver’s license so she could accept her job.
Now unfortunately for Stacy our vouchers from the DMV are only good for IDs and not driver’s licenses and when I told Stacy this her smile barely faded. “Well, it’s better than nothing,” she said. Thank God and his goodness that we have a fund at PUM to help people just like Stacy; those who have gotten a job but need some special work equipment in order to accept it. Most aren’t looking for replacement driver’s licenses but since I started at PUM I’ve seen people walk out the door with brand new steel toed boots (lots of those), medical scrubs, dress pants and shirts for office workers, tool belts filled with tools, even khakis and a polo for one man who got a job as a security guard and was much too big to fit into any of the clothes in our clothing room.
Stacy left PUM this morning and went straight to the DMV for that license but that wasn’t all the help she received from us. Susan, one of our case workers, was also able to connect her with Dreams for Change, an organization that runs a safe, guarded parking lot for people like Stacy who have no choice but to live in their cars. Dreams for Change even cooks hot meals for them every night using workers from the program who they are giving job training in the food service industry.
Stacy is a resilient young woman and I am confident that she is not going to become one of San Diego’s many long-term homeless, but this mama feels a lot better knowing that tonight and for as long as she needs she’ll be sleeping safely under a guard’s watchful eye.
If you want to donate to PUM’s fund for work equipment, click the button below. If you’d like to donate to Dreams for Change or learn more about their program visit www.dreamsforchange.org
Chelsea Asaro is a long-time San Diegan who resides in Scripps Ranch with her husband, three kids, and two dogs. Chelsea is a steering committee member and volunteer at PUM. If you'd like to meet Chelsea, come by any Wednesday and you'll find her cheerfully manning the front desk at PUM.