145 Invisible Women

invisible_manIn most cases the public will not recognize these women as being homeless. They are not pushing a grocery cart filled with their possessions. You probably will not see them on a street corner asking for donations. Some of them have jobs, but not affordable housing.

The 145 “Invisible Women” spend their nights at a UMOM shelter. The Truth be told, these 145 single women are out and about in the Phoenix community six days a week. Only on Sunday’s are they allowed to stay in the UMOM Shelter all day. It’s hard for me to imagine this number of women sleeping in a warehouse, plus more that are in other shelters and others on the streets every day.

Volunteering through The Phoenix Philanthropists, on the Meet Up website, I learned about this shelter. At that time, about 3 years ago there were “only” 125 single women sleeping there. Last year, 20 additional cots were added to the otherwise already crowded room. A few showers and toilets are available to them. Dinner is provided by community organizations and churches.

For a variety of reasons, these 145 women are stay at the shelter. Loss of housing, general health reasons, domestic violence, loss of a job, mental health issues, raise in rent, and many other reason have resulted in them experiencing homelessness.

On Fridays, every other week, during the Winter and Spring months I play Bingo with about 50 of the women. I make sure everyone wins a prize. The other Fridays, I provide a craft activity or other activity for them. These are the only activities that they have on a regular basis. Being a snowbird, I am not here in the Summer and Fall to offer activities.

I am sharing about these apparent “invisible women” because my hope is that others will help these women with housing, social and mental health service, and provide them with other activities during the week or on the weekend.

Last night I had our SUV filled with shoes, clothes and underwear that and distributed all of these clothes so that they could have at least 4 outfits. Two women came to the shelter this week with only the clothes on their back. They were so happy, along with the other women to have the opportunity to receive “new” clothes, underwear and shoes.

Carry Me Productions is based in California and I am in another state for half of the year. My questions is “Why isn’t more being done here in Phoenix?” What are other cities doing to help these “invisible women” and men in communities across the nation? What they need is affordable housing, not shelters. Our organization believes that shared, permanent housing can be the answer for many of these women and men too. It’s a matter of communities making a commitment to creating this option and having an agency to manage the homes, housing those who are experiencing homelessness.

Carry Me Productions’ current focus is on housing single Veterans in shared, permanent housing. Our CEO has figured out a cost-effective way to do this and allowing the Veterans to have a bedroom and that allows for a companion pet.

If a small nonprofit can make a difference by collaborating with other organizations, then communities can do the same thing.