By Beth Gizzi, Executive Director, The Hub September 2023
Beth Gizzi is the Executive Director at The Hub. A Senior Community Center in Belfair, WA. Each month I receive and read from top top bottom her E-newsletter. And I always look forward to her "On My Mind And From My Heart...," piece. This month I am compelled to share it with all of you. Please read this and let's all think about how we can show kindness, compassion and solutions for those in need. Thank you Beth for being a champion for others ~ Mary Coupland
By Beth Gizzi
As I walk into the lobby of the HUB I see a very nice looking lady who is put together well and has an aura of kindness surrounding her. I ask how we can help her today. She opens up her story to me and I come to find out she is living in her car. This has become a very common story here in North Mason. As housing prices continue to soar and people are forced to make choices between food, healthcare, and shelter, there just isn’t enough dollars to stretch far enough to cover expenses. Luckily, if you can call it luck she still had a vehicle to provide some sort of shelter from the elements and afford a small bit of safety to her nights.
Unfortunately even with all the contacts and resources we have at The HUB we are very limited on what we can do to help people find housing. The resources in this area are bleak to put it mildly. It is probably one of the most heart wrenching parts of my job when I tell a person in dire need of help now; that they are looking at a wait of two years or more to get into a low income housing solution. Not wanting to lead her down a dead end road or give her a number to call to pass the buck, I asked her if I can help her with a practical need today?
She tells me she could use a towel and some hygiene items. Because of the generosity of the community this is something I can do! So we load her up on soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, towels and some ready access foods as well. I then ask if she needs shower tokens. She says no she has a few left and can make it through for now and to save them for someone else in worse shape than she is in. I ask can I help her with anything else. She says “well….I don’t think you can but I really need a state park pass so I quit getting tickets when I park to take a shower.” I’m like what? Can’t you tell the rangers that you are just talking a shower? No they won’t let you do that.
So of course she could hike in, but then she leaves everything she owns in her house/car down the street. I’m like “oh my goodness stay here I’ll be right back.” I happily get in my car to drive to the State park to get a pass, happy because at least this time I am able to help with a need. Most housing consults do not end in happy endings. I drive to Belfair State Park to buy a $30 annual park pass so she can use the park to shower for a year.
When I get there the machine is broken won’t take cards. I ask the three rangers that are standing there for help with the machine. They say” sorry they can’t help” I ask perplexed “Can’t you sell me a pass from the office behind you?” Unfortunately, no they cannot so they tell me to go to the Chamber of Commerce to buy one. I get in my car and drive to the Chamber of Commerce and stand in a long line behind people getting tabs and fishing and hunting licenses to buy an annual pass. They charge me 5 extra dollars for the processing and 2.50 credit card fees so now it’s a $37.50 pass.
The whole time I am thinking... this is fine for me who took a shower today but what if I’m the lady who just needs a shower is down on her luck gets the run around and can’t afford the gas or the pass once she gets to the Chamber as she only has $30….
And that is just one person in the world, one of so many! I wanted to share it with the community as it really portrays what people in poverty and circumstantial hardships have to endure just to complete a simple task.
This story was shared in the North Bay Review last month. Since it’s telling, Belfair State Park now does not charge for showers but does require a pass for parking. Progress is being made,
Article Written By:
Beth Gizzi, Executive Director
360-275-0535, ext 2601