I want to wake up, I want this to all be over. I want to scream, cry or make something, some business to open so I can sit and laugh with friends again. I thought I was tough, but today, quarantine feels as if it is breaking me. I am stung by the words of the Governor of Nevada and take no comfort in his decision to stay silent and say nothing. My eyes almost rolled back into my head listening to the Mayor’s interview, but I wasn’t surprised. I have been working with politicians, specifically these two for 7 years in homeless services.
What the world doesn’t know about the viral interview of the Mayor of Las Vegas, Carolyn Goodman, by Anderson Cooper, is that often, she doesn’t base statements on facts or data. I have dealt with this for 7 years. She and the Governor ironically both hold special interest groups in the highest regard. They don’t care about the “commoners”, they care about money and the wealthy within the Valley. I remember watching then County Commissioner cringe as the Mayor took credit for the Strip as if it was in her jurisdiction proceeding the Route 91 shooting. I felt that discomfort as she laughed and tried to relate by declaring she had been through many things, including being exposed to radiation during atomic testing. “You just go home shower, rinse off your clothes and you’re fine.” I held my head watching her say such a preposterous thought.
For those of you that don’t know, when the US Government was testing the atomic bomb they did so at Area 51 in Nevada in 1955. There is an old bar in downtown Las Vegas, named Atomic, this spot entertained residents who would sit smoking and drinking, while kids with lawn chairs and sunglasses would run and play while the nuclear blasts were detonated. My elderly neighbors tell me everyone they know and themselves included from that time frame has gotten cancer, our current mayor included. Back to Goodman’s statement, I was horrified that she was so out of touch and removed from her own history, that she thought we just needed to dust it off and get back in the game of life.
This sentiment was rich, coming from a woman who will not take calls and refuses meetings with new people or the “common working class” of the City she represents. This out of touch attitude seems to mirror leaders around the country.
I am so disgusted how divided we as a nation, are right now. Everyone wants to blame Trump, mind you, I am not a Trump fan, but now is not the time. Quite literally, our leaders and media have all said contradicting things and continue to perpetuate confusion. This pandemic requires us to learn as we go with COVID19 and the flow of information. I’m frustrated by key-board commandos jumping at the throats of anyone questioning data. Especially as data from non Covid19 related death is included prematurely in reporting.
The Great Depression in the early 1900’s took 7 years to run its course and the US slowly crawled back out before it could thrive. Today we have halted our powerful economy in the hopes to slow the pandemic, however we, don’t have systems in place to support our current homeless prior to pandemic. The only solution offered is the half-hearted, “don’t worry, things will be fine.” Protests are erupting around the country as people are literally fighting back against a virus they don’t understand and what could be the end of their lives, homes and families as they know it, and are doing so without the reassurance of their representatives. I watch as social media opposition mocks upset citizens, assuming they are ignorant. I check on friends who are so deep in their depression, I worry they may not live another day because they were fine and then suddenly the bottom fell out from underneath their lives and I worry they may become one of my homeless clients.
With everything shut down homeless are struggling to get basic needs met. I keep replaying the image of the dead homeless young man during this pandemic I found lying on the cool rainy sidewalk, he died from dehydration. I want to scream as I look at the almost $10 million spent on the temporary hospital tent for the homeless that sits empty and unused.
When I voiced frustration that the tent was built instead of allocating funds for housing a government official told me, “Oh well, it’s just the fed’s money. We had to spend it anyway.”
“You mean our money,” I thought and cringed hearing this response completely lacking empathy.
“What is your community doing for those that will become newly homeless if a shutdown happens?” I wrote on my Facebook mid-February. Some people just said “pray,” others said it wouldn’t happen. It happened, and I am scared as I write this. I’m scared of the unknown. I worry that each time our government is supposed to help us they make a huge blunder. I see each level of government continuously fumbling the ball. I’m fearful my husband and I will lose our income. I worry that people will start rioting, or that our government will take away more of our constitutional freedoms than have already been stripped under Bush and Obama administrations.
Today, my head was spinning so I took a bike ride down The Strip. I set my music to “shuffle” and as I passed, waved at each police officer and security guard watching over the casino properties as my friend Dan’s song “Mouth of the River,” followed by Lauren Daigle’s “Look Up Child.” played in the background of my ride. Too numb to cry, I soaked in my emotions, waving and nodding at the few people I saw.
I circled back around and went to, City Hall, Clark County Courthouse, the Fremont Street Experience, my church Downtown Faith, the Fergusons’ residence and several other friend’s houses. I prayed and stopped momentarily for each and every one of them. I prayed for each of the businesses I passed in the Arts District. As I got closer to home I ran into a neighbor; he invited my husband and I over to hang out with his family. I politely declined and said a silent prayer for him as he rode off.
The bike ride did the trick, I am calmer. I write this, still uncertain for what tomorrow holds. My faith is still intact and tomorrow is a new day. I will wake up do my weekly staff meeting with my team, pay our formerly homeless Veterans, and trust that God has me, the Caridad team, other homeless service providers, our City, Sate, Country and that things will get better.
“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.”
~His Eye is on the Sparrow~
Chief Kindness Officer, Caridad
Caridad is a 501c3 non-profit that supports the homeless community in Las Vegas, Nevada. Caridad offers a wide range of programs that empower homeless to thrive and become contributing members of the Las Vegas community.