Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Sun, March 18 2012 at 6:47 PM, Updated: Wed, January 16 2013 at 8:15 PM
Imagine having a job and everything you want and then suddenly
you lose everything.
Tough economic times are forcing the middle class to find themselves without food, shelter, or a place to call home.
A homeless woman who wanted to only be known as "Lynn" is like millions of Americans trying to get by in the tough economy.
"I had 5 part time jobs," said Lynn.
She held jobs as a janitor and, was just recently fired from three of her five part time jobs.
Working Two Part Time Jobs...But Still Homeless
"My life is drastically changed, from electricity and showers, a nice bed, to having a storage unit with camping gear, not knowing where i'm going to sleep from day to day."
But even while Lynn is employed, she has been homeless for a month and a half. She said now that she's down to two part time jobs, she'll be making roughly $370/month...making it even more difficult to find a place to sleep at night.
A Helping Hand
Roberta Reagan, a volunteer at the First Baptist Church in Ashland helps feed the homeless every Sunday in Lithia Park.
"It's the normal everyday person that's going to be out there now," said Reagan.
Reagan said last winter, an average of 10-15 people came to Lithia Park to receive food from the church. This year though, the average is around 50 people every Sunday.
While Reagan is concerned about the growing need in the community, she said she's especially sensitive to the needs of homeless women.
A Focus on Homeless Women
"I don't like seeing women out there on the street," emphasized Reagan.
This year, the Ashland Citizens for the Homeless Coalition found that almost 20% of the city's homeless were women.
Reagan's mission? To help women like Lynn find shelter and get back on their feet.
"A working woman who's suddenly displaced, how does she survive?" asked Lynn.
Differences Among the Homeless
"For a single woman out here with a bunch of homeless guys, it's a little scary," she added.
Lynn distinguishes herself from those who have chosen a "homefree" lifestyle.
"It's not the same thing," began Lynn.
"Me, I choose to work and have an apartment, but i'm displaced. There aren't too many women that actually choose a homefree lifestyle. Most women that are homeless are in genuine need of help," she said.
"I feel like I have a safety net."
As she looks for more work, she said she's grateful for people like Roberta Reagan.
"I feel like I have a safety net, cause I feel alone out here a lot," said Lynn as she held back tears.
She said she appreciates the support and kindness she gets from Reagan and it's an example of women, helping women...extending a hand when hope is hard to find.
If you would like to donate, you can drop off food, or warm clothing at the First Baptist Church in Ashland. It's located at 2004 Siskiyou Blvd. in Ashland. You can also donate to any area food bank or organization that helps the homeless.
Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.
Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.
Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.
Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.