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The Need and Importance for Immediate Emergency Shelter

Updated on January 7, 2017

Picture of a Beautiful Family Dealing With an Ugly System


Bus Station Pittsburgh


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My Personal Experience for the Importance of Emergency Shelters

Although I have only been homeless for a little more than two months, it would have been hard to pinpoint the worst and most depressing thing I have seen until now. Less than 24 hours later, I rarely think of anything else. I have slept little but cried a lot.

This short article will exemplify what I consider the worst of homelessness- emergency shelter. It was an occurrence I happened to come upon by accident when I was walking around downtown, in deep thought, berating myself for something I almost did.

Earlier in the evening, I had ridden the subway to make a short trip. I had met this great looking guy who started a conversation with me. To summarize, he was married, "played with us gay guys on the side" and made it very plain he wanted to play with me. Please remember, my boyfriend is still in the Dominican Republic and I have not been with him for three years. This guy hitting on me was gorgeous, beautifully built and very persuasive. To make a long story short, I was tempted but I wished him well and sent him on his way.

I was angry with myself that in a moment of weakness, I had considered cheating on Eduard. I decided to go out for a walk. It was extremely cold outside. It was negative 2 degrees not factoring in the wind chill factor and there was some wind.

As I approached Liberty Ave., I happened to see about a block away, a young father with an infant wrapped in blankets and another small boy about three years old walking behind the father. I thought nothing of it at the time except I hoped the infant was warm though the father had wrapped him well.

I walked up to the Greyhound Bus Station and then decided to swing around and walk back to the shelter I am staying at now, Wood Street Commons. More on that place in another article. As I was walking down Liberty Avenue, I walked by the young father and his two children waiting at a bus station. He looked into my eyes and had the most innocent of faces. He smiled but I could see pain in his face. The small boy was sitting on some kind of window ledge and smiled at me also - he looked and acted like he was on an adventure, a very cold one. I smiled and acknowledged the father and walked on. I suddenly had this feeling that I needed to know they were OK and went back to talk to the father. I excused myself for intruding but told him I was staying at a shelter and had to know that he and the children were OK. He was so, so very nice and grateful to have an adult to talk to. He said "his girl", had kicked him and their children out and they were not quite sure where to go. I did not criticize "his girl" as it would change nothing at that point and I did not know the circumstances; but regardless, the children should not have been where they were and I had an instant like of the father - gut feeling I guess. I only knew of a shelter a block away and ran there for him but they were full and was told it would not be appropriate to bring children. I ran to the shelter I was staying at but the regular staff was long gone and the desk person had no help or info to provide. I ran like a maniac back to this little family I was so worried about. They were still there. I told the father I had no money or I would give him what ever I had. He got tears in his eyes and thanked me for caring. The young boy grabbed my hand and asked me if I was going to go with them. I smiled and said I would love to go with them but it was not possible. I ran down to a 'Seven Eleven' and used my food stamp card to buy the father hot coffee, a juice for the small boy and various goodies for them to nibble on. I brought it back.

The father was very grateful. He pulled the blanket back from the baby so I could see the sweet infant. He decided he was going to go to his mother's house and felt she would let them stay there. He said his mother had drug problems and as long as she was in the right frame of mind, they would be OK - at least for the night.

I talked with the father, Eric, for a few minutes and a bus FINALLY came. The small boy gave me a little hug and I shook hands with the father wishing them well. I do not know why I had such an urge to help them but am so grateful my guardian angel and theirs were all working together. I slowly walked back to my shelter. After I poured that nights events onto paper, I lied awake most of the night and even cried for a while. I worried that they were OK. I think until I die, I am always going to worry and think about them and all the similar people in difficult circumstances. As I have found out since that night, there are so many. Too many.



To end this, I can say that since originally writing this article, I have seen many examples of homeless families and people in general. I can also say that it is a sight that causes me a great deal of sadness and frustration. It is also disparaging that the number of homelessness seems to be growing, not decreasing. There is no easy and simple answer to this problem but dealing with it in a positive manner makes us a stronger and better society.

Liberty Avenue where I Interacted with the Brave Family

Wood Street Commons - Pittsburgh -


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    • Peter Grujic profile imageAUTHOR

      Peter Alexander 

      20 months ago from Pittsburgh

      sad families are every where- I used to be one of them- thanks- for the emotional story


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