Brittney and Tyler, who are facing homelessness as a family, take turns holding and entertaining 6-month-old Benjamin while they wait in line for a haircut.
“I need a trim. I cut it myself, so I need to get it fixed. I need a cut that’s appropriate for a job”, explains Brittney.
The couple brought Benjamin to United Way’s Community Resource Exchange, a one day event where people who are struggling with homelessness can get connected to services and essentials they rarely, if ever, can afford like haircuts, foot washing, tennis shoes and fresh fruit. There are also critical resources at the annual event like healthcare screenings, employment counseling and housing information, something important to Brittney and Tyler. They’re staying with Tyler’s mom in her apartment while they try to get back on their feet.
“The hardest thing about not having your own home is sleeping on the floor with arthritis and not having our own space.” ~ Brittney, 27
Brittney says being homeless is hard in other ways. “I find when asking for any kind of help, people look down on you. If you don’t fit into a perfect little box that society has created, you’re nothing and it breaks my heart.”
But at the Exchange, Brittney says volunteers like Sean, an Accenture employee who guided Tyler and her to the different services throughout the day, were really friendly and helpful.
While baby Benjamin looks at the faces of others waiting for hair care, he’s unaware of the struggles and worries etched on the faces of Tyler and Brittney. With their life packed up in 8 boxes, they wait to secure housing. Brittney believes the Exchange gets them one step closer to stability.
“We just need the resources, not necessarily somebody to find us somewhere to go, but the resources to help us. We don’t need a handout. We just want some help.”