My new friend Jeanie, 25, has a smile and an energy about her when she speaks that’s contagious, despite the fact that she’s been homeless for the past two years — the only form of shelter she’s able to maintain on a relatively stable basis lately is a motel room that costs $200 per week. Even with that, she is totally reliant on the generosity of strangers.
Jeanie was born with sacral agenesis, also known as caudal regression syndrome. Part of her spine is missing. Jeanie’s spine ends at the area of her belly button.
For more information on caudal regression syndrome, click on the following two links:
The last home outside of the motel that Jeanie’s had was when she was living with her father, who’s 74 years old and has health problems of his own, at his home. According to Jeanie, her father’s health insurance provider gave her father home health care services.
“There was one time — just one time in the whole time I was living with my father — when I asked his home health care worker for help with doing my laundry,” said Jeanie, whose mother passed away 5-6 years ago. “I asked for that help just once, and they thought I was going to need help from them permanently.”
She said her father’s health insurance provider threatened to stop helping her father through home health care as long as Jeanie was there, so she moved out. Since then, she’s gone from a motel to her father’s home again briefly and back to a motel again.
She’s been living in the motel, located closer to downtown Salt Lake City, for the past 6-8 months. She rides a Utah Transit Authority bus from the motel to the street at 4500 South near 900 East, where she seeks help from passers-by. While I was talking to her, she had several people stop to give her some cash, with one man stopping on 4500 South and pulling over to the curb before running back to hand her some money and encouragement.
Jeanie travels that distance to that location because that’s where she’s found the response is best.
Despite her condition, she says, her medical needs are “nothing unusual, just an occasional doctor’s visit.”
Along with cash being given to her, people have also helped by giving her food. As I spoke with her Thursday afternoon, she had a grocery bag sitting on the ground next to her with a drink and a sandwich.
How is Jeanie able to get by?
“Yeah, it’s a little rough, but I’m able to get by,” she said with a smile.
And what is it that does “get her by?”
“I’m looking at things with the hope that things will change,” Jeanie said. “I go with the hope that someday I won’t be in this situation.”
Jeanie said she does get occasional access to the Internet, so I wrote down the web address to this blog, along with my name and cell phone number. She said she had to pawn her own phone three times in the past week just to get enough money to get by.
What is Jeanie’s plan for now? She and a helpful friend are trying to move to Denver, where, she says, there are better resources and better programs with housing to help people in her situation. She said they are hoping to buy a car to enable them to get there, but at this point that’s not possible.
In the meantime, she holds out hope and a stained, weathered cardboard sign letting people know just a glimpse of her situation. The sign is held up by weathered hands as well. You can tell where her warm coatsleeves end on her hands because half of her hand is a brighter white, while the other half is a dark tan from hours sitting in the sun and the elements.
Jeanie just doesn’t seem like the kind of person who feels sorry for herself, which is to be greatly admired. She is so friendly, so energetic, has such a bubbly personality. It seems as though she’s not giving up hope — hope for a better life.
It’s the kind of personality I’ve seen once before, a few years ago, in front of a large audience at the Salt Palace when two of my children and a friend of my daughter’s and I went to see and hear a speaker named Nick Vujicic. If you don’t know who Nick Vujicic is, click on the links below and watch a couple of videos on him. He alone has a life-altering presence about him.
A FINAL NOTE: If you would like to give a tax-deductible donation to help Jeanie with her needs, to help her reach a way for her to improve her life and to make sure that all money goes directly to her, you may send a check to the Wasatch Hills Seventh-day Adventist Church, MADE OUT ONLY TO THE WASATCH HILLS CHURCH, along with a separate note — like on a “sticky note” or anything on paper enclosed with a donation — to let the church know where you would like the money to be directed. You can send it to the following address: 2139 South Foothill Drive, Salt Lake City, UT, 84109.
I can tell you personally from getting to know Jeanie just briefly that she will appreciate anything that is donated, more than anyone will ever know. That just seems to be the kind of person she is. You can visit the Wasatch Hills Church’s website by clicking the link below.
Copyright 2012, Daddysangbassdude Media