I was on my way to help construct the stage for the theatre production that I will be performing in starting January 22nd. [For those of you in the DC area, come see the Foreigner at Rockville Little Theatre. Details can be found here!]
I was heading up to Rockville, MD on Georgia Avenue where you turn off to Veirs Mill Road and saw a woman standing on the median with a sign that said, “Not homeless yet.” I made a u-turn and parked at a Baptist church, crossed to the median and went to speak with her.
As I walked up to her, she crossed her arms in an “X” shape and said, “Oh no!” as if she was trying to keep me away from her. What the heck? This has never happened. Was I wearing my Montgomery County Police Department hat? I asked her what was wrong and she said, “Your shirt….you a Redskins fan?” I was wearing a Washington Redskins shirt. It was then I noticed her Dallas Cowboys hat. Oh lord…my second Cowboys fan here in DC that I have encountered in my Year of Giving. I explain that I am actually a Steelers fan and we form a truce.
Dana, a 47-year-old single woman living in Maryland, says she is at the Georgia Ave. / Veirs Mill Rd. location almost every day from 9am to at least noon. She claims to have hit financial turbulence two years ago when her mother passed away and left her with a house that still owed more than $60,000. She says that she was unable to make the mortgage payments and the house entered into foreclosure. She offers to show me the foreclosure papers that she has in her bag, but I didn’t think that was necessary.
She says she is looking for work. “I will scrub floors, clean toilets, whatever!” she says. She gets by with the money she collects at this intersection now. A Wonder® Bread truck rolls past and she hollers out, “Hi honey!” She goes on to say, “Sometimes the driver gives me some leftover bread and pastries.”
This got me thinking. I asked her what was the best thing she had received from someone driving by. Her answer intrigued me. Instead of saying a dollar amount or some material good, she said that the most valuable thing that she had received was encouragement from those that speak with her.
She says she will use the $10 for food.
Dana is very likeable. She has been hardened considerably by her life experiences, but that doesn’t keep her down. She is very positive and optimistic and smiles often; revealing that she has almost no teeth left. We chat for a few more minutes as cars wiz by us on both sides. She probably notices my slight fear of standing only 3 feet away on both sides from cars traveling 40 miles an hour.
I asked her if I could take a picture of her with her sign. She agrees, but the camera on my phone doesn’t work. I told her I would try to see her some day next week. I thanked her for her time, wished her good luck, and said goodbye.
If anyone would like to reach Dana or help her, please let me know.