My name is Cassandra and I’ve been struggling with homelessness for roughly three years straight, and off and on since the age of 16.

The first time I dealt with homelessness was when I was 16 and ended up moving into a homeless program called New Beginnings, which is a nonprofit for teenagers and young adults. My mother wrote a letter saying I was not allowed to live in her home anymore. And, with that, my life in the homeless community began.

Now, New Beginnings is a great program, but you’re not really homeless. You’re living in a program with other people.

These last three years have been straight homelessness for me, through and through.

My fiancé, whom I lost last year to suicide, and I lived outside in the elements year-round. Summer, winter, spring, and fall. We lived in a tent and had a couple of different campsites. We had each other to rely on. But what to do when you’re alone, with no home, no options, and no hope? That’s been me since August 24th, 2022.

They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but who knew every tiny fiber of my body was going to be tested?


People make assumptions when it comes to the homeless. That they are rude, inconsiderate, dirty, and dishonest. Not all of us are like that.

Take for example the old man on the corner with a sign. His clothes are dirty and torn, he smells like urine and he is asking for your dollar. Are you going to step up or just drive by?

Now, what if I told you that he’s dirty because a shower isn’t something he can get? He smells like urine because he has early onset dementia and couldn’t get to a bathroom, and he’s asking for your dollar to get milk and a Code Red (energy drink).

Or what about the two young “brothers” who aren’t related but are the only family each other has?

You see two troublemakers who would be better off in jail. I see an 18-year-old who’s lost and trying to find himself, but his mom was killed and he has no father to guide him so he turned to the streets.

His 23-year-old brother has a heavy addiction given to him by his mother. He doesn’t want to be sick so he runs the streets in and out of jail.


They are just kids. Today they are my kids. I make sure they eat. I’m here to help in any way I can.

There’s the girl who walks down the middle of the road talking to people that you and I can’t see and saying a bunch of nonsense. What would you say if I told you that was my best friend, and that she wasn’t always like that?

She hasn’t always been the crazy girl you see today. She is an amazing mom who’s only been with one man. He left her in jail detoxing.

In a dry cell, she sat puking and pooping all over herself. All alone until her brain couldn’t handle it and protected itself.

All of us are so much more than what you see on the surface. I have been so cold, that I thought I had frostbite on my fingers and toes because it hurt so bad. I wanted to cry. I had nowhere to warm up. I have gone to bed thinking that morning would never come for me again.

Growing up we are all taught the golden rule. Treat others the way you want to be treated. So answer me this, what happened to us?


Why are the people that are hurting the most, the ones most likely to give a dollar to that old man on the corner? Or take those young brothers under their wing and be a parental figure to help get them back on track? And even be the friend to that girl who sees people we don’t? To let her know she’s not crazy, but needs help, and to be there to help her when she gets scared.

The next time you’re curling up in bed, under all kinds of blankets in your home, remember that someone somewhere doesn’t have that and is worried about keeping their hands warm or protecting their face from blistering cold wind.

Next time you’re sitting down to a nice meal,  think about those who haven’t eaten in days.  No one is perfect, but we all should be more kind to one another because you never know, one day it could be you fighting to survive. Do you think you could?

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