The essays, analyses and opinions presented as Community Voices express the perspectives of their authors on topics of interest and importance to the community, and are not intended to reflect perspectives on behalf of the Salish Current.
The Rotary Club of Bellingham and Salish Current asked for your thoughts about homelessness. Among the essays and poems received, we chose to publish one.
I spent three years and six months in the U.S. Army. They fed me three meals daily. They gave me clothes at no cost. They gave me free housing. They gave me a paycheck monthly. When discharged I was in Frankfurt, Germany. They gave me a plane ticket home. They shipped my car, too, at no charge.
Upon discharge, I felt like a baby eagle being pushed out of my nest to either soar like a bird or splat on the ground.
I landed in New York and at that point I was homeless, or the closest I’d ever been to it in my life. Let’s say for me in my life I could have been homeless. I had a room at the YMCA. I didn’t have a job. I had only $10 in my pocket. I decided not to ask for help from family in Bellingham. I applied for a job at a parking garage and got the job only by persistence. Knowing I was broke and nearly homeless, another fellow job applicant generously offered me a place to stay in the Bronx with his family — I gladly accepted.
Yes, I was one of the lucky ones. I now had a job and shelter. I could have been mixed up on alcohol and drugs; instead I resisted and persisted. When my long-awaited car arrived in New York after being shipped from Germany, I was more than ready to return home to Bellingham. I drove across country, ready to be home.
When I arrived at my parents’ home, a “Welcome Home, Jack” banner was placed across the door. I was so overcome with tears of joy and gratitude for finally being home. I drove around the block to regain my composure and reflect on the thankfulness for a place to come home to.
— Contributed by Jack Westford
Salish Current welcomes letters to the editor responding to or amplifying subjects addressed in Community Voices. If you wish to contribute to Community Voices, please send an email with a subject proposal to Managing Editor Mike Sato (firstname.lastname@example.org) and he will respond with guidelines.