Updated: Dec 21, 2020
Did you know that the homeless population is reaching 10,000 in Santa Clara County? At least 14,000 families are late in their rent payments and face eviction at the end of this January. Homelessness is a massive problem in Santa Clara county and many people need help. Today, I will tell you a story about one homeless lady, Rose, who has made it her purpose to help the others.
I met Rose through my friend Lyndsey. When I ran into Lyndsey a year ago at the Campbell Pantry, she waved at me excitedly and said, "you should meet Rose, an amazing woman who lives on the street to help the homeless. she stays behind the Safeway store on Winchester Boulevard in Campbell." I went to look for Rose on the following Saturday. When I saw her, she was pushing her loaded cart, limping slowly in a parking lot, on her way to her spot on Nido Drive. Rose is a black woman, 70 years old, 5 feet tall.
The moment you see Rose, you will notice that Rose is very industrious. She has an enormous amount of stuff, mostly food, separated into two piles. The first pile is her personal belongings and the freshly cooked food from her volunteers; the second pile is food donated from grocery stores, restaurants, and food banks. Rose manages 22 accounts from Palo Alto to Monterey. More than 20 volunteers help her pick up foods from these places throughout the day and deliver them to the homeless encampments, soup kitchens, and shelters. She is on her phone all day long to coordinate her operation between naps or receiving visitors. She feeds about 1000 people every week.
I was amazed by what Rose was doing and wondered how such a small, seemingly fragile, old homeless lady with physical challenges could help so many people. I had become one of her volunteers, cooking, and transporting food for her weekly. As I spent time with her, I got to know her gradually. Rose was born in east Africa, grew up, and educated in England with a nursing degree. She came to the US in the seventies and worked at various bay area hospitals as an RN for more than 20 years. In the late eighties. Rose started to help elderly widows and batted women. As she spent time helping these women, she saw more need to help the homeless. Gradually, Rose has made herself available to anyone who needs help 24/7, rain or shine, and she no longer stays indoors. Rose has been living on the street for about 15 years, using her skills to help the homeless. When I visit Rose, I often see people stop by. Some live nearby in their cars; some live in camps, streets, or homes; some walk here and others on their bikes. Many are elderly. There are also young people. Some of them work part-time, but all are looking for food to eat because of hunger.
Rose is amazingly cheerful. When I visit her, she always says, "Hi Ming" and greets me with a big smile, asking me how my family is doing. When I leave, she always tells me loudly, "Ming, God loves you!" One time when I asked Rose why she wants to help the homeless, she said to me with her eyes closed, "#1 everyone needs love and dignity, #2 it is not their fault they are on the street, #3 God is abundant, and the help is available, Give them hugs."
Living on the street is difficult. Rose needs to sleep, go to the bathroom, charge her cell phone, and keep her possessions from being stolen. Often she faces harassment from neighbors and police. Neighbors call the police on her frequently. The police officers have taken all her possessions repeatedly and hauled them away like garbage. Rose has been arrested and thrown into jail several times for violating of the city ordinances. But Rose is resilient and always bounces back from setbacks with a positive attitude. She firmly believes that her purpose in life is to be on the street to help the homeless who are forgotten by society. She now operates on Industrial Street behind St. Lucy Church in Campbell, feeding the homeless and providing an opportunity for those who want to help.
In Santa Clara County alone, more than 9000 people are homeless, and more than 14000 families are in danger of losing their homes. I hope that the story of Rose will inspire you to find a way to help!