My heart breaks every time I hear news of children being abused, starved or otherwise neglected. I can’t begin to fathom how anyone could treat a child in such a violent, unloving way. Yet, this is the tragic life my friend Penny endured every day at the hands of her mother.
Shuffled in and out of foster homes and juvenile detention centers, Penny never felt she belonged anywhere – so she made the streets her home. She learned survival skills from homeless friends who taught her how to scavenge for food in dumpsters, use newspaper and cardboard for bedding, and find clothes at mission centers.
Growing up on the streets, Penny didn’t attend school regularly. Incredibly, it was her mother who first gave her drugs as a child, so it isn’t difficult to understand her struggle with addictions or why she ended up in jail several times over the years. With no family support, Penny remained in this cycle of suffering and homelessness, but she never gave up on herself. She hopped trains and hitchhiked across the country while working odd jobs along the way. One job brought her to Austin, but before long Penny once again found herself alone, hungry and homeless.
Soon Penny found the nourishment she needed through a Mobile Loaves & Fishes food truck, and she also formed life-changing relationships with the volunteers she met.
Tragically, there are many others just like Penny who have suffered at the hands of people who should have cared for them. They find themselves struggling to survive on the streets. They are hungry, lonely and have no place to call home.