About a month ago, I was on my way to work and decided to swing through the Starbucks drive through where I bought a latte and a fruit cup for breakfast. As I sat at the red light waiting to get on the freeway, I saw the same homeless girl I had seen a couple of nights before on the other side of the intersection begging for money. This time she was on the median next to me and when she rose to walk to someone who had offered her something I noticed that this wasn’t your average homeless chick standing by the side of the road with a sign. She was pregnant.
She was probably in her mid 20s, wore a calf-length brown skirt and tank top, dirty glasses and hiking boots. Her dark blonde hair was just below her shoulders, and to me, she looked like a girl with really bad luck. A girl who went on a trip with her douchey boyfriend who decided to take off on her, leaving her stranded with no car, no money and no place to stay. I immediately started to cry. I called her over and gave her my fruit cup, telling myself that something healthy would be good for her and her baby. That it would truly help her. And then I cried all the way to work….I never saw her again.
While I know that her situation could be vastly different that the one that I imagine, I couldn’t stop thinking about her and the thousands of other pregnant women out there with nowhere to go. Because no matter what the reason for their situation, even if they’re complete and utter degenerates, the babies in their bellies didn’t do anything wrong. They didn’t do anything to deserve a life with no healthcare, no food, no home. So it made me curious – is there a place this girl can go for help? Is there something else I can do to help people like her? Short answer: yes.
Reno-Sparks Gospel Mission provides emergency shelter for up to 10 days for homeless women and children. They receive meals, clothing, showers and other hygiene necessities. In addition, the RSGM provides emergency groceries, holiday meals, counseling (substance abuse, domestic violence and more), education and several other social services. Women in need can call the Mission at 775-329-0485 24 hours per day for help. Volunteer or Donate to Reno-Sparks Gospel Mission
Casa de Vida provides support services and shelter for pregnant women and teenagers. Casa De Vida offers a home for pregnant teens with a live-in housemother, case management services, parenting and life skills classes, education assistance, counseling and even transitional housing for females over 18 who have left the pregnancy program after giving birth. Casa De Vida encourages and assists its residents with finding employment and housing before giving birth and allows new mothers to stay in-home for two weeks afterward to obtain proper support and assistance. Casa De Vida also operates Wanda’s Closet, a store filled with donations ranging from diapers and formula to furniture and clothing (for mother and baby). Wanda’s Closet is open to all families at no cost, pending proof of guardianship and identification. Volunteer or Donate to Casa de Vida or Give to Wanda’s Closet.
Step2 helps women in need, particularly those with drug abuse problems who are pregnant or have children. To start the assistance process, simply call Step2 at 775-787-9411.Programs include drug treatment, childcare, parenting education, job placement assistance, access to medical care, domestic violence intervention and prevention, and outpatient, residential and transitional housing. Preference is given to women in the following order: 1. Pregnant IV drug users, 2. Pregnant, IV drug users, 3. Post-partum women, 4. Women with children, 5. All others who are chemically dependent. Volunteer or Donate to Step2.
Crisis Pregnancy Center has been a resource in northern Nevada for more than 30 years, providing assistance to pregnant women and even men who are expecting with a partner. In addition to pregnancy, counseling and sexual health education and resources, the Crisis Pregnancy Center helps women in need “Earn While You Learn.” Women who are expecting are rewarded for completing courses on prenatal care, parenting, safety, health, development (of both the child and the mother), nutrition, SID risk, spirituality and bonding with baby, among several other topics, allowing them to earn “Baby Boutique Money” to “purchase” materials such as baby clothes, blankets, diapers, wipes and other supplies from the Center. There is also a Center in Fernley, located at 50 S. West St. Call 775-223-1035 for more information. Volunteer or Donate to the Crisis Pregnancy Center.
With this in mind, the next time you see a woman in need, I encourage you to give – without judgment – just give. It doesn’t have to be money. Give information, give time, give your old baby clothes, give your old clothes. Give help. Give hope. It could be a new chance at life.