Snowy conundrum and those left out in it


My yard was covered with snow last week.

As I sat at my desk looking out my window, I felt a chill come over me. Not because I was cold. I was in a warm house complete with roof, walls and heat.

The chill I felt was for those who were not. Those who live on the streets of our cities. Those who look for shelters that are not already full. The foster kids who have aged out of the program and have nowhere to go.

Those living in their cars or cardboard boxes in alleyways. And as always, I wonder how this way of life came to be for those less fortunate than I.

It could have been me. It could have been you. Raising four daughters alone, with no help, I always worked two jobs and sometimes three to keep home and hearth together.

I was not part of the drug culture that was quite common for my age group. I did not apply for state aid. I felt my children were my responsibility, and we trudged through the tough times together.

None of my children have committed crimes or become homeless. Luck of the draw? Who knows?

I know many of the homeless come from good homes and loving families. Their path took them down a different way. Many came home from wars that destroyed their faith in their fellow man, having witnessed atrocities they cannot forget.

Some families living in tents and cars have two working parents that simply cannot come up with enough to rent apartments or houses. Unemployment is at an all-time low, and the minimum wage is at an all-time high.

So, I wonder why, in the so-called richest and greatest nation in the world, this is?

Washington is one of the best states to live in benefits-wise. We have food banks, food stipends, some housing assistance and better medical benefits than many of the other states I have lived in. We have wonderful non-profit organizations that provide clothing, hot meals, glasses, hearing aids and free dental work.

So why can’t people find a place to live that they can afford?

More and more adult children are moving back home to live with their parents. Sometimes this works out well for all concerned, and sometimes it does not.

I have heard horror stories over the years of working with seniors, of medications, money and even cars and furniture disappearing. The same seniors refused to report these losses to the authorities. They felt the shame that their children did not.

Happily, I have also heard stories of how the help seniors received from their adult children made their lives much easier. I am in this category, and again I wonder why my life turned out this way while others did not.

I know I have been lucky my whole entire life. I have been blessed with a loving family and good friends that were always there to lend a supporting hand and words of encouragement.

Sometimes just being told, “You’ve got this,” made all the difference in the outcome of what I was facing.

If I could, I would tell all our neighbors facing hardships today the same thing. I would pass out “atta boy and atta girls” to everyone who is trying, and I would hope and pray for those still struggling to find their way to reach their goals.

But most of all, I would encourage all those who ‘have’ to share – their support, encouragement, belief in each other and in themselves.

Perhaps luck is just another word for sharing our good fortune with others. And perhaps we could all do a little bit more…

Kathleen Anderson writes this column each week from her home in Olympia.  Contact her at or post your comment below.


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  • GmaMaggie

    I am sad to read of your ignorance about the state of poverty and disability in the United States.

    At least 25% of homeless people have primary disabilities. Additional disabilities go undiagnosed for lifetimes: Like autism.

    Autistic adults are more likely to be homeless than non-autistic adults.

    When it comes to using substances, have you ever been homeless while sober? I have. I spent 7.5 years as an autistic, disabled person without a home.

    It's enough to drive anyone to attempting to kill the pain of one's own brain or fighting for the respect of others.

    Do you realize that MANY homeless people hold down at least one if not more than one job?

    At some point in time the issue of homelessness was removed from the circumstances of poverty. We have an income disparity in this country that we should be ASHAMED of.

    People die in our streets, while others hoard wealth. That is not humanity. That is evil.

    Friday, March 3 Report this

  • pbaron1902

    Gmamaggie, you're being a bit hard on Kathleen. It's easy to diagnose and complain about ignorance of conditions. What are your ideas for helping the situation? Please let us know.

    Friday, March 3 Report this