I just finished reading Breaking Night by Liz Murray–the girl dubbed with the phrase, “from Homeless to Harvard.” She came to speak at our school as part of our book fair. When she spoke, I was amazed at how down to earth she seemed. She spoke from the heart and even seemed nervous. Now , of course she must have said some of these things hundreds of times all ready. But, she seemed very genuine. Good for our students to see a speaker like that.
And then I started the book and literally haven’t been able to put it down!
For one, it is extremely well written. The clarity of her voice is amazing. I found myself thinking about the things she said even when I wasn’t reading the book. Her words echoed through my mind. She talked about how she used a blank transcript that she filled in with A’s as her motivation as she was working her way through high school while homeless. She talked about how she had to choose school over and over again in the daily decision to get up and throw the blankets off her head. She described the physical effects of poverty and drug abuse–the way she had lice as a child and the way the house was left in disarray with a tub that never completely drained, filled with a brown murky water. She talked about how she and her sister became more and more distant. She also described her love for her mother. The incongruity of her mother’s blatant neglect and irresponsibility and yet her affection when she called Liz “Pumpkin.”
Perhaps I was also drawn in by her story because her story is so horrific and happens literally under our noses. There are homeless kids like this everywhere. In Montclair, even. Or Newark, just down the road. And, this problem is an old problem. It’s been around forever. It’s not hip or current or part of the latest example of social ills. It’s homelessness and hunger. Plain and simple. And the things that will solve it are: food and awareness, distribution and funding. Plain and simple.
So the food banks that I have visited in my community service days at school are essential. People rely on them. And, other organizations that aren’t as big as the food banks need food too. It’s not glamorous. It’s not innovative and cool. It’s just cans in a bag. Delivered to a shelter.