Homeless College Students Shatter Myths About Youth, Poverty
Today's Washington Post profiles two young individuals much like many of our friends and peers. They're in their mid-to-late 20s with ambitious goals for the future. The one major difference is that both 26-year-old Miracle Lewis and 28-year-old Ronnell Wilson are homeless. Petula Dvorak's WaPo article underscores what the anti-poverty movement in America has been saying for years: our assumptions about the homeless are wrong.
Their stories are remarkable and humbling in so many ways. They shatter our assumptions about who is homeless, and they put so many of our daily struggles in stark perspective.
Neither wanted their picture in the paper. Few of their friends know they are homeless and not all their professors know. But they agreed to tell their stories, partly because I kept bugging them, mostly because they want others like them to know they are not alone.
Miracle Lewis's story is touching and sadly common. She was sent as an infant along with her siblings to foster homes, where they were all adopted except for her. In her early 20s, she worked as a flight attendant. Dvorak describes how Lewis felt most compelled and emotional when looking after an unaccompanied minor on a flight. Through perseverance, she won a scholarship to university and worked through a temp agency. With the current recession, the temp agencies jobs grew scarce, and the now pregnant Lewis was forced to move into a homeless shelter.
These are not the homeless stories Americans are used to and it is part of our economic story as a nation that hard-working, dedicated people like Lewis can slip through the cracks.