Hope is a bright pink wall
By Karen Fisher
Imagine being homeless for a year and a half, living in a church with a pew for a bed.
Imagine moving out of the church into a shed, an outbuilding, set up next to a very small RV where you’ll stay during the snowy, cold winter.
Imagine you are a young woman, sharing these living spaces with your brother, two sisters and your mom and dad.
This is your life because your home and everything you had burned in a fire during the summer of 2014.
I can’t imagine living in a shed. I just can’t imagine it. But I know when you dream about the room you will finally call your own…it will have a bright pink wall. I saw this wall. It is the brightest pink, with yellow and orange, reminding me of a beautiful sunrise. When you have no place to call your own, and very little privacy, dreaming of your own space with a wall that resembles a sunrise is hope.
Hope keeps you focused, looking to that day when you will no longer be homeless. Hope keeps you smiling when your mom and dad borrow every bit of your savings to keep working on the house that contains the room that will have a bright pink wall. But what happens to hope, when the money runs out and your Dad doesn’t think he deserves to ask for help, and you begin to think that you might just have to spend another cold winter surviving in a shed set up next to a tiny RV?
If you are lucky, there is a volunteer group scheduled to complete the interior of another house far up in the hills belonging to someone else; but there is too much snow and that house site is not accessible. The Long Term Recovery case managers convince your Dad that he should let these volunteers come help complete your family’s house, because it is time that you all have a place of your own. You can finally move out of the shed into a warm house.
I was blessed to be part of a group of volunteers dedicating three newly completed homes in Okanogan County on Saturday, March 12. There were friends and family, folks from the Mennonite Disaster Services (MDS), Christian Public Service (CPS), the Salvation Army, United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) and United Methodist Commission on Relief (UMCOR), and a group of conference and district lay leaders from The Pacific Northwest Conference of The United Methodist Church.
Together, we spent time touring the area to see the recovery process. We spent time with Carlene Anders, director of the Okanogan Complex Long Term Recovery Group (OCLRG), listening. And we spent time talking, strategizing, and planning what we United Methodists could do to help. There is so much being done to help the folks recover from the Carlton Complex and the Okanogan Complex fires, but there is so much more to be done. And as time has passed, we’ve forgotten.
Our conference and district lay leaders believe that we are called to help people in our PNW area. This is my district, and it is people in your conference that need help. There is a great need for financial resources and volunteer support to build the 15 houses planned this year.
You will hear more about this project. Until then, if you have questions, just ask me. There is more to this story…and I have others.
Let us be hope.